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"So Why All The Scary Goddesses In Ancient Cultures?" Topic

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Science Fiction

2,690 hits since 24 Sep 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

After looking at some strange Mesopotamian plaque depicting some scary-looking goddess called Lamashtu* (goddess of stillbirths!!!), I came across other images just as creepy, but from completely different cultures and many miles and centuries apart.

They seem to like their snakes and the body part trophies.

* TMP link
PS. Here's Lamashtu, followed by Kali, and three Aztec goddesses (2 images of Coatlicue? and one of Mictecacihuatl):






dragon624 Sep 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

Cluthulian aspects. They aren't snakes, they are tentacles

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

Snakes seem to be fundamentally scary. Everyone from the Minoans to Disney throw in snakes when they want to add a little fear to something. Deatheaters, naga, everybody. I think there might be a snake in Genesis, I don't remember. Usually the snake-formed entity or snake-equipped entity is evil, or at least not entirely good, or not entirely trustworthy.

You have to wonder about the symbols that seem nearly universal across cultures.

Timotheous24 Sep 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

+1 Andrew Walters. And flood legends abound as well.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

Here you go, this will completely blow your mind -


Legion 424 Sep 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

Some statues of Ancient Dark Gods in my 6mm Sci-fi terrain …


Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 8:59 a.m. PST


The one on the right reminds me of the Mesopotamian Pazuzu, including the hand positions.

TMP link

Prince Rupert of the Rhine24 Sep 2017 9:05 a.m. PST

I'm guessing a lot of ancient religious men got on the wrong side of their wives…

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 9:05 a.m. PST


Those are some weirdly similar icons! And from so many different cultures, separated by vast distances and centuries.

I seriously think that long distance trade and communications was far more common than we give ancient people credit for today.

PS. Though I'm sure I know what the Ancient aliens/astronauts guy with the Centauri hairdo (Giorgio Tsoukalos) would say about that:


Legion 424 Sep 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Here's another one Dan …


And these may be familiar … [even a Stargate !] …


Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 9:37 a.m. PST

Obviousily, they represent the univeral mother-in-law. grin

Ottoathome24 Sep 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

Dear Dan

It's not just Mesopotamian or Mezoamerican. The Goddes Athena in some of her earliest representations is of a giant snake. Snakes are also associated with Demeter, and a host of other Gods. Alexander believed his mother laid with Zeus in the form of a snake and he was not Phillips son but Zeus' Many theories have been advanced for this fear/dread/attraction to snakes many of them to do with ideas of eternity, where souls go when people die, and so forth. One theory I find appealing as an explanation is that its species memory (instinct) that goes back to when we were prey. It is the snake's ability to surprise. We can see predators like lions and tigers a long way off, but the snake is different. It lies hidden from our gaze among the rocks and grass or in the tree, along a branch, ready to drop on us and either use its venomous bite or constrict us (remember were once much smaller). It is the origin of the idea of "the snake in the grass" or the serpent coiled around the branch of the tree holding the apple out to eve. The phallic suggestion of the snake is a potent totem as well. All these stories of snake stories as attributes of goddess' are merely archaic to us, but much later developments of a time in velt when we had a whole encyclopedia of fears.

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Prince Rupert: "I'm guessing a lot of ancient religious men got on the wrong side of their wives…"

StoneMtnMinis: "Obviousily, they represent the univeral mother-in-law."

I think that both Prince Rupert and StoneMtnMinis might actually be on to something. :)


Ten Fingered Jack24 Sep 2017 9:52 a.m. PST

Because the Ancients recognized the evil nature of women.

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 9:53 a.m. PST

Jack: "Because the Ancients recognized the evil nature of women."

Lol. Oh man.



Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Aside from all the snake imagery not only do some have birdlike feet, but a lot of them have "fans" held behind them, or have multiple arms on their bodies, which makes them look a bit as if they themselves had peacock feathered tails, and sometime looking like Mesopotamian Pazuzu or looking a bit like the Yazidi peacock "angel" (Melek Taus / Tawsi Melek)*.

So combinations of bird and snake features in a single figure abound.

Cultural cross-pollination via long distance trade, migrations and/or communication routes had to have been more widespread than we ever believed possible.

* link

Oberlindes Sol LIC24 Sep 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

Snake worship is the oldest known religion, dating back possibly to 70,000 years ago.


New religions would naturally demonize the prior religious object, the snake, as part of their marketing to potential converts.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine24 Sep 2017 11:31 a.m. PST

Snake worship is the oldest known religion, dating back possibly to 70,000 years ago

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 11:38 a.m. PST

Well, that was weird. An new TMP bug?

Or is one of those creepy ancient goddesses angry at us now? :)


CeruLucifus24 Sep 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

Snakes shed their skin and thereby symbolize rebirth.

Women have periodic cycles of bleeding followed by fertility, thus also symbolizing rebirth.

Goddesses are greater than human so should have more attributes than human. Thus represented by combining female and snake. Same reason for extra limbs, each representing a different aspect or attribute of the goddess.

As for similar representation, please consider the limitations of representing the above in a mural or 2D carving. Ancient artists hadn't discovered perspective, and a side view would only show one arm, which would be an imperfection (since humans have bilateral symmetry), which is inappropriate when representing a divine being. So representations are full frontal. And again, without perspective, portraying the above arms or snake tentacles -- whether 2, 4, or more -- requires that they radiate out from the body.

Hence similar representation across cultures.

I know, it's much easier to believe in ancient astronauts than in ancient dedicated craftsmen working at the peak of their art.

piper90924 Sep 2017 12:19 p.m. PST

Big Mommy Is Watching You!

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 12:23 p.m. PST

Personally,I believe in Jung's Collective Unconscious. At some point in the distant past, there was something like a worldwide religion, maybe there was more contact before the continents became completely seperate.

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

Or a common belief system between nearby and closely tied Neolithic population centers*, before something major (a major plague, a decades long drought or crop disease, etc) scattered humanity to the distant far corners of the Earth, specially if their "priesthoods" maintained some level contact (and a lingua franca of sorts) for a while, even as they were beginning to settle far and wide.

* For example similar sacred symbols, rituals and artistic styles among the Neolithic Mother Goddess temples in Malta, Turkey and even Iran.

Covert Walrus In the TMP Dawghouse24 Sep 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

Mammals tend to have an inherent fear or wariness of snakes or similar forms ( Hence cats and cucumbers videos ), so it's once again an example of the two human responses to something bigger than ourselves Either hate it and try to destroy it, or worship it and hope it thinks well of us. :)

At some point in the distant past, there was something like a worldwide religion, maybe there was more contact before the continents became completely seperate

Breakup of Pangeaea 175 million years ago.

Appearances of humans 200 thousand years ago.

Sure, what's a few orders of magnitude between friends? :)

PJ ONeill24 Sep 2017 1:52 p.m. PST

Girls are scary !

Waco Joe24 Sep 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

Mostly pop psych but I loved this book as a kid:


CAPTAIN BEEFHEART24 Sep 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

Well either most people think alike or there are flying saucers involved…..

Ottoathome24 Sep 2017 3:11 p.m. PST

I imagine the simple act of procreation, or perhaps when man began to think about procreation, scared people. Why can only girls do it? What are they doing when they do it? Today we have largely de-mystified birth. Back then, what is the connection between our fields coming alive from dead earth after winter, and the connection between our cattle and flocks increasing, and our women providing babies, and do the Gods have to copulate to start the process moving, or do humans have to do so to remind the Gods to get busy and start doing their jobs.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 3:12 p.m. PST


All kidding aside this is a very interesting topic and a lot of the posts are quite informative. Thanks for starting the thread.


Hafen von Schlockenberg24 Sep 2017 4:50 p.m. PST

Maybe gynophobia and misogyny aren't recent phenomena.

Just a thought.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2017 6:12 p.m. PST

Mothers in law have been loathed, feared and worshipped across the ages.

Cacique Caribe24 Sep 2017 8:36 p.m. PST

Hafen: "Maybe gynophobia and misogyny aren't recent phenomena."

Lol. Considering how those goddesses had a huge female following through the ages I think the opposite might be true (androphobia and misandry?).

PS. To this day many "curanderas" seem to hate it when a man knows a little about the "mysteries" of the female body.

Khusrau25 Sep 2017 3:29 a.m. PST

The 'mysteries' of the female body? Personally, I have been talking to women, and living with them for long enough that there aren't any mysteries. I find it quite an unusual phrase to use.

Do you refer to the Mysteries of the Male Body?

Cacique Caribe25 Sep 2017 3:53 a.m. PST

LOL. You'd need to hear how a Hispanic "curandera" (healer) describes birth*, hormonal cycles, female reproductive problems and solutions. Their exaggerated descriptions are very silly and intentionally shadowy/creepy at the same time. That's why I wrote "mysteries" in quotations. Their word choice, not mine.

Maybe they use "mysteries of the female body" as a defense or deflection crutch, so as not to reveal how little they really know about the processes they are discussing with their "patient" (aka sucker).

I specially love it when they say that any "male energy" present in the room could interfere with what they are trying to do. I think they only like to be surrounded by people who don't ask questions or point to inconsistencies in their explanations. Anyway that was their way of kicking me out of the room where my gullible friend was being "treated".

* Then again, we still hear people utter the phrase "the miracle of birth".

Mike Target25 Sep 2017 7:34 a.m. PST

Breakup of Pangeaea 175 million years ago.

Appearances of humans 200 thousand years ago.

Sure, what's a few orders of magnitude between friends? :)

This would be an excellent point against the idea of one "global" religion/culture in early human (pre)history if It were the case that different groups of humans had evolved seperately on different continents.

If of course all humans (and their early culture) evolved in the same place and simply radiated out from there taking this proto-religion with them then your point would be irrelevent.

I wonder which it was…

Timotheous26 Sep 2017 7:00 p.m. PST

I find the explanation of man's rebellion at Babel in the land of ancient Mesopotamia, followed by their scattering after their language was confused, explains these similarities in religion rather well.

Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 1:40 a.m. PST

It could reflect any period when mankind's population was still very VERY small and vulnerable, and in some sort of bottleneck situation when they were briefly drawn closer together for survival, before finally choosing to scatter.

PS. By the way, historical or not, I still really love this scene (1966) with Stephen Boyd as Nimrod. Whoever ruled the first village or city of humans must have thought equally high of themselves, and must have set rules and standards that were passed on and were duplicated by other dynasties, even long after that original village or city had become dust.



Hafen von Schlockenberg27 Sep 2017 6:41 a.m. PST

Of course, there's no rebellion in the original text. That comes from later interpretation.

Even the association with language in the story is due either to folk etymology, or the deliberate punning common in the Hebrew Bible. Or both.

whitejamest27 Sep 2017 7:00 a.m. PST

People all around the world like to use bright complimentary colors in their religious art. Clearly there was a divine interior decorator at the very beginning back in Africa who started it all.

People everywhere like music, and much of it transcends specific societies' tastes. (I'm not talking about you, Bjork). Clearly a prehistoric proto-Beatles toured the world inspiring the cultures they met.

At a certain point you just have to accept that our minds are deeply similar, anywhere you go, and that far more of our conscious actions are determined by the deeper automatic workings of the brain than our ancestors liked to believe.

Ottoathome27 Sep 2017 7:18 a.m. PST

To males who cannot produce children, females who can will always have a "mystery" about their body.

Sorry to offend all the Dainty Doilies on the list but it is no wonder women are sex objects to men. They have wombs. Nature has hard wired into both sexes the command to reproduce. The ancients understood this. Modern man does not and desires only the ephemerrata of sex, (the act) not the primary intent or the consequences.

Cacique Caribe is correct and his annotation of the beliefs of "curandera" is just one element of a mythology of "the woman" or "The goddess" that persists to this day, especially among women.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 12:29 p.m. PST

Naw. You're all wrong. All those icons, idols, etc. are just ancient forms of the saying, "Life's a b----!"


Cacique Caribe27 Sep 2017 6:14 p.m. PST



Cacique Caribe25 May 2018 8:08 a.m. PST

For those waiting for a Mother Earth Coatlicue, here she is:

TMP link


Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP25 May 2018 5:37 p.m. PST

Creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin. The fertility goddess is also the consumer.


Plus, they're fun …

Legion 426 May 2018 6:01 a.m. PST

Now that is frakk'n scary !!!! huh?

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2018 3:14 p.m. PST

Coatlique's name derives from "coatl" which is snake in Nahuatl. Another snake meme.

Creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin. The fertility goddess is also the consumer.

This is the point. Coatlique is an Earth Mother and therefore the mother of all life. However, she also represents danger and death. She is slaughtered by her children at the beginning of each creation cycle. Like Hindu gods, the Gods of the Aztecs have different manifestations or avatars. So sometimes they look scary, and sometimes they don't.

Religion has always been used by the ancient states as a form of control over the general populace. A scary deity will keep the people in line better.

Cacique Caribe16 Jun 2018 4:53 a.m. PST


When we were little we were told that if we stayed out after dark "el cuco" would get us. And, it certainly kept us from going out after dark. :)


Legion 416 Jun 2018 6:11 a.m. PST

As we see many, many cultures, ethnicities, etc., have many demons, deities, supernatural creatures, entities, beings, etc., etc. …

Hmmmm ? "The Truth is out there" … huh?

Here's another I made for my 6mm terrain inventory …


capncarp17 Jun 2018 1:04 p.m. PST

Why? Because all the male gods were goo busy getting drunk and screwing other goddesses/mortal women/all kinds of animals/anything that moved to take care of managing the operation of the world. So, "uppity wimmen, err, goddesses" had to be the tough guys.

Zephyr117 Jun 2018 2:25 p.m. PST

I think that of all the ancient goddesses, Pele (the volcano goddess) is the only one that really (and still) exists. For that reason, I remain a respectful distance away from volcanoes…

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