Link to dissertation
Below is the abstract of a doctoral dissertation by Carla Ionescu, linking The Greek goddess Artemis with the development of the cult of Mary in Christianity.
“Tradition states that the most popular deities are Apollo, Athena, Zeus and Dionysius
These divinities played key roles in the communal, political and ritual development of the Greco-Roman world.
This work suggests that this deeply entrenched scholarly tradition is fissured with misunderstandings of Greek and Ephesian popular culture, and provides evidence that clearly suggests Artemis is the most prevalent and influential goddess of the Mediterranean, with roots embedded in the community and culture of this area that can be traced further back in time than even the arrival of the Greeks.
In fact, Artemis reign is so fundamental to the cultural identity of her worshippers that even when facing the onslaught of early Christianity, she could not be deposed. Instead, she survived the conquering of this new religion under the guise of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Using methods of narrative analysis, as well as review of archeological findings, this work demonstrates that the customs devoted to the worship of Artemis were fundamental to the civic identity of her followers, particularly in the city of Ephesus in which Artemis reigned not only as Queen of Heaven, but also as Mother, Healer and Saviour.
Reverence for her was as so deeply entrenched in the community of this city, that after her temple was destroyed, and Christian churches were built on top of her sacred places, her citizens brought forward the only female character in the new ruling religion of Christianity, the Virgin Mary, and re-named her Theotokos, Mother of God, within its city walls.
The fundamental position of this work is that a fusion took place between the ancient worship of Artemis in Ephesus, and the elevation of Mary to Theotokos, and that this fusion is not a result of the church-initiated action to convert the Ephesians, but rather the Ephesians forcing the early church to accommodate their traditions of Artemis by reshaping and reinterpreting the authority and responsibilities of the Virgin Mary”.
ARTEMIS of EPHESUS was the black multi-breasted Goddess also known as ‘she who flowed with milk and honey’. She was a Goddess unlike any other and was closely connected to the earlier Goddess, Cybele. The Ephesians were well known across the Greco-Roman world for their utter devotion to the goddess Artemis Ephesia. They built and dedicated a magnificent temple to her which became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was worshiped by her citizens for over a thousand years as their virgin Queen, their saviour, mother of mothers and their midwife of life, death and fertility. Her turret crown represented her role as guardian and protector of the city and all who dwelt in it. Her many breasts are mysterious….. eggs, bees eggs, acorns, bull testicles, figs ? Whatever they are they all symbolise the fertility of the Goddess. Her blackness is possibly connected to a black meteorite as the Goddess was said to have fallen from the sky. Her predecessor Cybele was worshipped in the form of a black stone. According to legend, the first statue of Artemis was a black meteoric stone worshipped by the Amazons.
Less than thirty years after the destruction of Artemis’ temple, Ephesus was given a new virgin mother, Mary the Mother of God, in 431 CE. The city was rededicated to her and to this day, it remains a major pilgrimage site. However when the early Christian Church first arrived in the city there was great social tension for the loss of the people’s Goddess and it is said that the people were both determined and allowed to shape the Virgin Mary with the love, myths and ceremonies they had showered on their beloved Artemis Ephesia. The Black Madonna is often found in locations that were once pagan shrines to Artemis of Ephesus, Cybele, and other goddesses….. and so they became one. These two feminine energies represent the archetypal Mother of all Mothers, the forever evolving ancient power of the feminine force………….I AM EVOLVING
One of the reasons Christian “believers” get a bad press is because of their closed mindedness to the sciences and knowledge in general.
We Christians MUST admit that many of the beliefs and practices we now have were taken from people we arrogantly call “pagans.”
Today, we are much more pagan than were the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
I love the Mary of the New Testament, the servant, not the goddess.
The wife and mother of Nazareth – the one responsible for the wine at Cana.
The younger woman going to help her oldest cousin Elizabeth in her confinement.
The heart broken mother who stood at the cross when all the others had fled.
Men created the cult of The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Those men say that even though Jesus Himself had to die, Mary never died.
The same men who say that Mary always remained a virgin and ignore the New Testament reference to the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
And these men are all hung up on her virginity.
Surely, her motherhood of Jesus is more important than her virginity?
Mary has been used by churchmen for hundreds of years to keep women in their place and condemn them for their non-virgin activities.
I think the term Saint Mary gives Mary the credit for being what she was – a human being who said “Yes” to God.
Whereas the men who have used Mary to control women have their rosaries all over women’s ovaries.