from Willendorf through Monroe, Madonna, St. Teresa, and Princess Diana

Just as God represents the masculine principle in mythic form, the Goddess represents the feminine principle in mythic form.

The diverse male gods in the world's religions characterize aspects of the masculine principle from Osiris, Lord of the Underworld, to Zeus, thunderbolt-wielding Father God; from Loki, the Trickster, and Siva, the Destroyer, to Quetzalcoatl, the Culture-Bringer.

Similarly, the various goddesses personify aspects of the feminine principle from the "Venus" of Willendorf as Primordial Mother Goddess to Persphone, Queen of the Underworld, and Oshun, Goddess of the Waters, to Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, and Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom.

The venerated female (Goddess) predates God by tens of thousands of years and, despite millennia of fanatical repression, she thrives again today, rebirthing herself for the Third Millennium. The earliest goddesses inspired the first art ever made. As early as 35,000 BC, our paleolithic ancestors were making "Venuses" such as those found at Willendorf in Austria and Laussel in France. They predate the famous animal cave paintings at Lascaux and other sites by as much as 20,000 years.

These prehistoric manifestations of the Great Goddess form the bedrock upon which all her later images and personae were built over the succeeding millennia. Before conversing with the more sophisticated goddesses of "higher" civilizations, we must honor the Primordial Mothers of Prehistory for they are pure in their elemental feminine power.

They are to humanity what the mother is to the infant: namely, the World. When we are centered in their essence, they empower us in a deep, quiet, abiding way to be whole human beings, to be fully female, to be in harmony with the cosmos, and, quite simply, to be.

In men, they nurture a vital sense of security in the unconditional love and natural abundance of the universe. They also fill men and women with creative energy and sexuality.

The later goddesses are more differentiated and developed. Their stories and deeds have been recorded in history, literature, and art; and they address us as complex, multifaceted adults. Like us, they have definite personalities with strengths and weaknesses, and they cope with living in a male world. We look to the Primordial Goddess to heal our souls; we look to the later ones for strategies of living. The Primordial Goddess gives us the peace to be; the later ones help us to do what we want to accomplish.

Women and men learn about the opposite sex from the various gods and goddesses who inhabit the collective unconscious. Their relationships become our relationships as we unconsciously act out their archetypes in our own lives: Hera, the jealous wife; Blodeuwydd, the flower bride; Demeter, the mourning mother; Isis, the devoted wife and mother who manages to retain her magical pre-domestic powers.

The later goddesses can be seen all around us in human women from our neighbors and friends to celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, a modern incarnation of the Goddess of Love; or Madonna — Love Goddess, Sorceress, Warrior Goddess, and now, Mother Goddess in the manner of her namesake.

Mother Teresa incarnated the paradoxically terrifying but comforting Goddess of Death, who transcends the boundaries between Life and Death. Princess Diana inspired millions representing the great goddesses of compassion such as Tara, Kuan Yin, and the Virgin Mary.

With her intelligence, initiative, and independence, Hillary Clinton is akin to the Virgin Warrior Goddess Athena. And Marilyn Whirlwind, the wonderful Indian receptionist from the TV sho, "Northern Exposure," had both the body and the quiet wisdom of the Primordial Goddess.

The Goddess Mound honors the Primordial Goddess, the birth-giving Great Mother of all.