Homer, Rhea is the mother of the gods, though not a
universal mother like
Great Mother, with whom she was later identified.
Titaness daughter of
Uranus, the sky, and
Gaia, the earth, in
classical Greek mythology. In earlier traditions,
she was strongly associated with Gaia and
Great Goddess and later seen by the classical Greeks
as the mother of the
Olympian gods and goddesses, though never dwelling
permanently among them on Mount Olympus. Rhea was wife
Cronus and mother to
Berecyntian Cybele, alluding to her
place of origin. He described her as
the mother of the gods.
According to Livy in 10
CE, an archaic version of Cybele, from
Pessinos in Phrygia, as mentioned above,
that embodied the Great Mother
was ceremoniously and reverently moved
to Rome, marking the official beginning
of her cult there. Rome was embroiled in
Second Punic War at the time (218 to
201 BCE). An inspection had been made of
Sibylline Books and some oracular
verses had been discovered that
announced that if a foreign foe should
carry war into Italy, that foe could be
driven out and conquered if the Mater
Magna were brought from Pessinos to
Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica was
ordered to go to the port of
Ostia, accompanied by all the
matrons, to meet the goddess. He was
to receive her image as she left the
vessel, and when brought to land he was
to place her in the hands of the matrons
who were to bear her to her destination,
the Temple of Victory on the
Palatine Hill. The day on which this
event took place,
12 April, was observed afterwards as
a festival, the Megalesian.
Under the emperor
Augustus, Cybele enjoyed great prominence thanks to
her inclusion in Augustan ideology. Augustus restored
Cybele's temple, which was located next to his own
palace on the
Palatine Hill. In
Roman mythology, Cybele was given the name Magna
Mater deorum Idaea ("great
Idaean mother of the gods"), in recognition of her
Phrygian origins. Occupying this site today is the
sanctuary was rededicated to the Mother of God, as the
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Temple of Cybele or Temple of Magna Mater
was a temple on the
Palatine Hill in Rome. This, the main temple of
Magna Mater in Rome, was erected after the Roman
embassy brought back her icon from Pessinus in
204 BC. was restored by
Augustus ( in 3 surviving intact from the Augustan
era until the fourth century. Nearby Octavian [Augustus]
in return for the victory over
Sextus Pompeius at the
Battle of Naulochus in
36 BC and over
Mark Antony and
Cleopatra at the
Battle of Actium
5 years later, built his
Temple of Apollo Palatinus
Greek mythology Adonis (Greek:
Άδωνις) is an archetypal
life-death-rebirth deity of Semitic origin , and a central cult figure
He is closely related to the Egyptian
Osiris, the Semitic
Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian
Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and
The most detailed and
literary version of the story of Adonis
Zeus raped the
Cybele after she disguised herself as a rock, and
is the ejecting of
semen from the
penis, and is usually accompanied by
orgasm. It is usually the result of
sexual stimulation, which may include
Castration is any action where a
male loses the functions of the
testes or a
female loses the functions of the
ovaries. Castration was frequently used in certain
China, for religious or social reasons. After
battles in some cases, winners castrated their captives
or the corpses of the defeated to symbolise their
victory and 'seize' their power. Castrated men —
eunuchs — were often admitted to special social
classes and were used particularly to staff
bureacracies and palace households: in particular,
harem. Castration also figured in a number of
religious castration cults. Other religions, for example
Islam, were strongly opposed to the practice.
Removal of only the testicles had much less risk than
the entire organ. In Europe, when females were not
sing in church or cathedral choirs in the Roman
Catholic Church, boys were sometimes castrated to
prevent their voices breaking at
puberty and to develop a special high
|Cybele began as a
hermaphrodite or an organism that posses both
male and female genitalia. A reference to the great
architect of the universe being beyond gender
Roman Emperor of the
Ancient Roman religious tradition, the hilaria
Latin: hilaris, "hilarious") were festivals
celebrated on the
vernal equinox to honor
is the center of mystery cult in early Rome and was a
rougher section as portrayed in the HBO-TV
series Rome, in which the Aventine is the home of
Lucius Vorenus. In season two Vorenus and his friend
Titus Pullo seek to maintain order over the various
gangs competing there for power.
|"...Who is then the Mother
of the Gods? She is the source of the intellectual and creative
gods, who in their turn guide the visible gods: she is both the
mother and the spouse of mighty Zeus; She came into being next
to and together with the great Creator; She is in control of
every form of life, and the Cause of all generation; She easily
brings to perfection all things that are made. Without pain She
brings to birth ... She is the Motherless Maiden, enthroned at
the very side of Zeus, and in very truth is the Mother of All
the Gods ..."
Emperor Julian II
- - from an Oration to Cybele composed at Pessinus in Asia, some
1116 years after the founding of Rome.
The traditional mother goddess of Anatolia was Cybele, and the
Greeks living in Ionia associated Cybele with their younger
goddess Artemis. The resemblance lay mainly in the fact that
both goddesses gave fertility to fields, humans, and animals.
Cybele lacks the attributes of youth and virginity normally
associated with Artemis, but both play the central role of
mother goddess and addressing concerns of women such as
protection against one's enemies, the
healing of grave illnesses, guardianship of the dead, a granter
of boons and a giver of the gift of prophecy.
came to be called the Ephesian Artemis. Later, the Romans
associated their mother goddess Diana with the goddess Artemis
Cybele signified the unknown, the
unconscious and mysterious, the magical and intuitive qualities
women in particular are considered to have which she shares with
other goddesses such as Astarte, Luna, Hecate, Kali and
particularly today's Black Madonnas
Cybele and Hecate were worshiped as Maiden, Mother and
Cynthia, queen of the mysteries of the night, if
as they say thou dost vary in threefold wise [here
regarded as a triple goddess Diana/Artemis, Trivia/Hekate, and
Luna/Selene] the aspect of thy godhead, and in different
shape comest down into the woodland … The goddess stooped her
horns and made bright her kindly star, and illumined the
battle-field with near-approaching chariot.
|Many of the priests and
priestesses were great healers. Their secret was to first study
the patient, and then almost instinctively know the right herbs
or methods to heal the disease. They often wandered the
countryside or parks, studying the plants (and animals) of the
Mother, seeing which would work best for which disease.
During the trials of the Second Punic War, the
ancient image of Magna Mater or Cybele was relocated to Rome about
204 B.C. and was carefully moved by the matrons of Rome to the
Temple of Victoria on the Palantine Hill until a Metroon was built
in 191 B.C. With this, Rome unleashed mystic and syncretic forces we
will never fully understand. Cybele became one of many goddess cults
in Rome, although her ancient history as "Mother of the Gods" and
her castrated priests and other attendants were radical departures
from the norm, the international City Rome had long accommodated
many different cults, only rarely suppressing any one. This
exotic cult thus enjoyed the support of the state and its ceremonial
temple is where St. Peter's now stands.
Cybele's myths, in stark contrast to the later Roman
Catholic church total repression, embraced sex and spirituality, give an
earthier caution against lust and other sins of excess, and show
gender as less important to the soul than love. Her legacy as the
original great mother goddess lent such immense power to her presence
such that Rome was willing to believe only her embrace could defeat the
invasion by the North African people and their general Hannibal.
Cybele's priests also embraced the public praising through the power of
dance and song much like their rival counterparts who worshipped to the
other cross-cultural goddess of 1000 names, Isis.
Cybele (Kybele) was a Phrygian (Turkey today) mother goddess, who was
worshipped in Greece and Rome. She had often being equated with the two
other Greek mother goddesses – Rhea (Ops) and Demeter (Ceres).
Magna Mater was really no stranger to Roman religion, as the mate of
Saturnus and with Tellus Mater, the traditional Mother Earth. Cybele was
so revered that she was often called "The Mother of All" or "The Great
Mother of the Gods".
During the second Punic War, Hannibal was having much
success subduing towns and villages in Italy and was approaching Rome.
The Senate consulted the Sybilline Books and learned that, should a
foreign enemy invade Italy, he could be deterred only if the worship of
the "Mother of Mount Ida" were brought to Rome.
|"if the Mother of
Mount Ida is transferred from Pessinus to Rome, the foreign
enemy that has invaded Italy, will be driven away and
|following the instructions
of the Sibyl at Cumae and the Oracle at Delphi. It is said that
when the king at first refused the favour to the Roman envoys,
the voice of the goddess herself was heard saying these
"It was my own will
that they should send for me ... let me go, it is my wish.
Rome is a place meet to be the resort of every god."
Always ones to hedge their bets, the
Romans sent a delegation to the oracle at Delphi. A treaty was made with
Philip V of Macedon and he permitted the Romans to bring back to Rome
both the statue and a black meteorite that personified the divine Cybele.
The Mother of Mount Ida was transferred from Pessinus
to Rome on a ship built of pine trees from Mt Ida, through Tenedos,
Lesbos, the Cyclades, Euboea, Cythera, around Sicily and then to Ostia
(chief port of Rome).
Caesar Augustus the first Roman Emperor [63 BC –
AD 14] rebuilt the Roman Temple after it burnt down, and he acknowledged
Cybele as chief divinity of the Roman Empire reversing his uncle Julius
Caesar who had been very accommodating to the Egyptian Great Mother
Cult of Cybele
becomes the home of many GLBT Pride Parades featuring wild
music, chanting, and frenzied dancing.
Cybele's religion was a bloody cult that
required its priests and priestesses as well as followers to cut
themselves during some rituals. The cult was a mystery religion,
which meant that it's inner secrets and practices were revealed
to initiates only. The priests castrated themselves at their
initiation; there was wild music, chanting, and frenzied
dancing. Cybele's retinue included many priestesses, including
Amazonian, transgendered female priests as well as traditional
masculine functionaries such as the dendrophori (tree-bearer)
and cannophori (reed-bearer), and transgendered males known as
During the Republic and early Empire, festival
days in March and April were celebrated with eunuchs preceding
the goddess through the streets, banging cymbals and drums,
wearing bright attire and heavy jewelry, their hair long and
Priests and priestesses were segregated, their
activities confined to their temples, and Roman citizens were
not allowed to walk in procession with them. Neither Roman
citizens nor their slaves were allowed to become priests or
priestess in the cult. No native-born Roman citizen was to be
allowed to dress in bright colors, beg for alms, walk the
streets with flute players or worship the goddess in 'wild
Attis was worshipped as the god of vegetation
and fertility and was seen as consort of Cybele.
At its peek, the Cult of Cybele was rivaled
only by that of Isis, and there were temples in all provinces of
Her dedication day or dies natale is
celebrated on 10 April (IV ID APR) as the culmination of the
|Cybele is often shown
enthroned with her two lions, Ferox and Atrox, often riding the
quadriga drawn by them ... or holding the symbols of the
tympanum (ritual or frame drum) or torch of immortality. The rose is also
among Her emblems, as violets represent Attis, Her child and
sometime consort known as well by many names among different
times and peoples.
Cybele was sometimes referred to as Dindymene or
Dinymenian Mother because she was born on Mount Dindymus. Zeus had
ejaculated on the ground somewhere around Mount Dindymus, where an
offspring sprung out of the ground, with both male and female sex
The gods fearing this creature upon reaching adulthood
had the hermaphrodite being castrated, thereby causing the creature to
become a female being. The creature became the mother goddess, named
Cybele. The gods threw away the severed phallus, and instantly an almond
tree grew on that spot.
Cybele is known by serveral epithets, such as Magna
Mater and Mater Deum (deum = deorum, a syncopated poetic form). Her home
was said to be Mount Ida, near the city of Troy.
was a wife and consort of Attis, another Phrygian god, who
also can be seen as her son. Attis was the god of vegetation and
fertility. Cybele was a friend of all. She fell in love with
prince Attis, but their love-story was tragic. The intense love
of the divine Cybele was too much for the mortal prince, and he
went mad, castrated himself and died.
|"A woodland Phrygian boy, the
gorgeous Attis, conquered the towered goddess [Rhea-Cybele]
with pure love. She wanted to keep him as her shrine’s
guardian, and said, ‘Desire to be a boy always.’ He
promised what was asked and declared,
"If I lie ... may
the love for which I break faith be my last love of
Attis met the Naiad Sagaritis and
turned her into his sweetheart. But the Mother of the
Gods, who was well informed, by wounding the Naiad's
tree destroyed Attis' sweetheart as well, since her fate
was dependent on the tree's.
"Ah, perish the parts that were my ruin."
---Attis according to Ovid
|Ovid tells us that Cybele took Attis
as a lover, demanding perpetual fidelity. When Cybele
discovered Attis making love with a river nymph, Attis
was ashamed and castrated himself with a stone and was
transformed into a tree
One day, Nana, the daughter of the river god
Sangarius, was playing under the almond tree, when one of the
almond seeds fell on her laps. The seed disappeared and Nana
became pregnant. Nana gave birth to a son named Attis, whom she
exposed in the wild. Attis was saved, because the infant suckled
by a goat.
Attis grew to be a very handsome youth, whom
Cybele fell in love with. However, Attis' father had the youth
betrothed to the daughter of King of Pessinus. Jealousy had
caused Cybele to drive the king and Attis mad where they
castrated themselves and died. Cybele regretted her part in
causing Attis' death, so she had the body preserved. Attis was
buried in Pessinus where a pine tree grew.
transsexuals are repeating the drama but it is more
centered in the ego's search for self than service to a
higher power. This new twist has men seeking chance to
express the female inside who better represents
their true self.
"Now, thanks to
hormone treatments and further advancements in modern
surgery, every guy who’d rather be a gal can have his
weenie whacked off and delicately transformed into a
tunnel of love – complete with pulsating orgasmic
Since a woman always has a right to change her mind
medical technology for testicular cancer treatments now
offers testosterone implants, chemical and
mechanical erection enhancers, and even implanted
testicle prosthetics transsexuals with changes of heart.
In another tradition Attis castrated himself
as stated above. Attis' passion was celebrated on the 25th of
March, exactly nine months before the solstice festival of his
birth, the 25th of December. The time of his death was also the
time of his conception, or re-conception. To mark the event when
Attis entered his mother to beget his reincarnation, his
tree-phallus was carried into her sacred cavern. Thus the virgin
mother Nana was actually the Goddess herself: she who was called
Inanna by the Sumerians, Mari-Anna by the Canannites, Anna
Perennea by the Sabines, and Nanna, mother of the dying god
Balder, in northern Europe
The god died and was buried. He descended
into the underworld (Hell). On the third day he rose again from
the dead. His worshippers were told: "The god is saved; and for
you also will come salvation from your trials."
Attis was depicted in his death throes
drenched in blood, then serene after his resurrection,
androgynous, released from his worldly sins and surrounded by
solar rays. Or he was shown as a child, naked and dancing for
Hilaria Carnival: This day was the Carnival or
Hilaria, also known as the Day of Joy. People danced in the
streets and went about in disguise, indulging in horseplay and
casual love affairs. Thus was the Sunday; the god arose in glory
as the solar deity of a new season. Christians ever afterward
kept Easter Sunday with carnival processions derived from the
mysteries of Attis. Like Christ, Attis arose when "the sun makes
the day for the first time longer than the night."
Cybele festival calendar
and dancing castrati
males known as the Gallae
were an important part of the retinue supporting the worship of
retinue included many priestesses, including Amazonian,
transgendered female priest/esse/s as well as traditional
masculine functionaries such as the dendrophori
(tree-bearer) and cannophori (reed-bearer),
Gallae is derivative of Latin for chicken or rooster and these
eunuchs were known for
their perfumed hair and dressed with oils.
Frenzied fans (a word derived from
the Latin fanatici, for maddened worshippers of Cybele)
had already been generated by grand opera in the
late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when castrati
sang female roles and were the dizzy object of coterie
speculation and intrigue. Modern mass media immensely
extended and broadened that phenomenon. Outbursts of
quasi-religious emotion could be seen in the hysterical
response of female fans to Rudolph Valentino, Frank
Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles.
Eroticism mixed with
death is archetypally potent"
The Gallae originated from Phrygia (part of
Asia Minor), a territory that included Mount Ida, Troy, Pessinus
and Pergamum. The worship of Cybele spread to the Greek mainland
through trade, and by metragytes, who were roaming gallae. They
would wander the countryside, begging for alms and telling
fortunes. On the whole however the gallae were shunned by the
In 205 BCE Cybele was imported to Rome. The gallae and their
head priest the Battakès went with Her.
The Romans later added the position of
archigallus as high priest of the Mother-worship cult of Cybele.
This position was reserved for a Roman citizen and an
official duty incompatible with castration. Romans were
not allowed to serve as priests of Cybele until the time of the
Emperor Claudius. [10 BC –54 AD fuled 41AD till death)
Two rituals should be noted in particular --
and the Criobolium. These involved
sacrifices of a bull or ram respectively to produce a baptism of
blood. The initiate would stand underneath the sacrificial
animal in a pit. It was then slaughtered and the blood poured up
the person beneath it. Sometimes the testicles of the animal
would be removed as well. Instead of the initiate castrating
themselves, the animal was sacrificed and castrated instead.
|Gaius Valerius Catullus
|We’re going to gain the
And be writhing joyously, out of our minds,
Like nests of incense-addled snakes,
In the courtyard of my mother, Cybele’s, fort.
And here before we start, before you all I'll prove my
I’ll tear my own balls off for MOTHER DEATH, for MOTHER DEATH”
More from Poem
63 from Catullus
|Her attendants were the
mythical youths, called Corybantes. Before her priests would
serve in her temple, the galli would dance themselves
into a frenzy before they castrate themselves in the memory of
her consort Attis.
More about Corybante Dance.
This myth allowed room for a transgendered wing of the
priesthood devoted to Cybele
|Mountains and caves were
sacred to Magna Mater, and her temples were often built near
them. By sleeping in a temple many women hoped to get help from
the goddess, who was said to help mothers and children. Midwifes
were tied to the cult, and many priests were healers. The
priestesses were more involved with her ecstatic side,
celebrating her secret mysteries behind locked doors.
Practically nothing is known about them, except that they were
exclusively women only
Her annual holy
days observed the vernal equinox of the first days of Spring as
did Easter and Passover
of Cybele on Vatican Hill
|15 March Canna
Intrat (procession of the reed-bearers and
|Apuleius wrote that the devotees
"went . . . forth,
shouting and dancing . . . they bent down their necks
and spun round so that their hair flew out in a circle;
they hit their own flesh; finally, every one took his
two-edged weapon and wounded himself in divers places.
Meanwhile, there was one . . . who invented . . . a
great lie, noisily . . . accusing himself, saying that
he had displeased the divine majesty of the goddess . .
. wherefore he prayed that vengeance might be done to
himself. And therewithal he tools a whip . . . and
scourged his own body . . . so that you might see the
ground wet and defiled with the womanish blood that
issued forth abundantly''
(The Golden Ass,
The brotherhood of cannophori
went into procession through the streets, carrying reeds cut
from the banks of the Almo. This was the beginning of nine days
of penitence when people abstained from bread, pomegranates,
quinces, pork, and fish. Milk was mainly drunk instead. A six
year old bull is sacrificed.
|22 March -Arbor
(entrance of the sacred pine tree; burial of Attis in
effigy strapped to a stake)
A pine is felled
representing the death of the god. The acolytes and initiates
proceed to the Temple of Cybele with the sacred pine bearing the
effigy of the god in its branches (the god is on the tree).
The tree is laid to rest at the Temple of Cybele. The following
day was a "day or mourning" and lamentation. The Salli (who were
priest dancers of Mars) went in procession sounding their
trumpets and beating their shields.
March - Sanguis
The "day of blood"
(a day of mourning, sacrifice, and
The sacred pine tree and
an effigy of Attis is buried in a tomb and a day of mourning,
fasting, sexual abstinence, self-flagellation and
self-mutilation commemorating the Mother's grief follows People
would beat their breasts with pine cones and cut their arms and
shoulders with knives.
|"the Day of Blood," on which the
novices sacrificed their virility. Wrought to the
highest pitch of religious excitement, they dashed the
severed portions of themselves against the image of the
---Sir J. G. Frazer (The Golden Bough, IV: II, i).
The High Priest playing the part of Attis
draws blood from his arm and offers it as a substitute for a
human sacrifice. That night the tomb is found brightly
illuminated but empty, the god having risen on the third day.
Initiates undertake the Mysteries and are baptized in bull's
blood at the Taurobolium to wash away their sins whereupon they
are "born again". They then become ecstatic and frenzied and
recruits to the priesthood, castrate themselves in imitation of
the god. . This was performed with broken pottery, sharp flint,
and glass (in later times only the testicles were removed)
After that the initiates were left in the temple during the
night. In many cases they saw visions sent by the Goddess,
affirming their initiation.
At the close of March 24, the priests
reverently removed the sacred effigy from the tree, and laid it
in the tomb, The older as well as the newly desexed initiates
watched and fasted all through the long night, until the dawn of
the day of
of Cybele, the mother of the gods
The Romans celebrated hilaria,
as a celebration of the rebirth of Attis
honoring the first days of Spring following the
vernal equinox, or the first day of the year
which was longer than the night.
The winter with its gloom had
passed away, and the first days of a better
season was spent in rejoicings. Opening
the season, the statue of the goddess was
carried, and before this statue were carried the
most costly specimens of plate and works of art
belonging either to wealthy Romans or to the
A festival Gallai
|"A further irritating factor was that
the gallus indulged in an extravagant personal
appearance. On the day of blood (dies sanguinis) he
forever discarded his male attire; henceforth he wore a
long garment (stola), mostly yellow or many coloured
with long sleeves and a belt. On their heads these
priests wore a mitra, a sort of turban, or a
tiara, the cap with long ear flaps which could
be tied under the chin. The chest was adorned with
ornaments, and sometimes they wore ornamental reliefs,
pendants, ear-rings and finger-rings. They also wore
their hair long, which earned for them the epithet of
"long-haired," they sometimes dedicated a lock of hair
to the goddess. By preference they had their hair
bleached. On the day of mourning for Attis they ran
around wildly with disheveled hair, but otherwise they
had their hair dressed and waved like women. Sometimes
they were heavily made up, their faces resembling white
washed walls. The galli were also very conspicuous when
they showed themselves in the city outside the temple
precincts. With a procession of enthusiastic followers
they wandered about begging; in exchange for alms they
were prepared to tell people's fortunes (vaticinari);
they performed their dances to shrill music of the pipes
and the dull beat of the tambourine. When the deity
entered into them and they were possessed by divine
power they flogged themselves until the blood came."
(Vermaseren, Cybele and Attis, p. 97).
supports the suspicion of Arnobius (Adversus Gentes, V,
17) that other and even more revolting ceremonies were
performed: for there were secret rituals which only the
emasculated initiates could witness. These consisted of
a sacramental meal in which the novices ate out of a
drum and drank from a cymbal [the form of their
---Clement of Alexander, Exhortation, II.
The tomb was then opened; and a great shout of
up from the assembled worshipers: for the tomb was empty, the
god was not there. He had been resurrected from the grave into
eternal life. the resurrection of Attis and the onset of spring
is celebrated with a sacramental meal and a day of joy and
feasting. With the resurrection, the people gave themselves over
to an unrestricted Saturnalia of joy, gaiety, and sexual
Processions of overwrought mourners, bearing images upon their
breasts, following the statue of the goddess through the
streets; driven to the highest
pitch of frenzy by the wild and discordant
music of fifes, cymbals, tambourines and kettledrums, they
screamed and whirled and leaped about like dervishes, and
slashed themselves with knives and swords.
The festival ended with a procession bearing
the sacred black stone to the river Almo, where it was washed
and purified; after which it was returned amidst singing and
rejoicing to its sacred place within the temple. Those who
castrated themselves become Galli—cocks—dress in women's clothes
and wear perfumed oils.
26 March - A quiet day of rest and recovery;
|27 March - Lavatio (day of ablution)
The Goddess was asked if she would return to
Rome, and then taken back the way. A procession was made with
Cybele's Idol along the Appian Way until the Almo river was
reached. Then the idol would be dipped into the river, rubbed
with ash and then washed. The conclusion of the festival
with a procession in which the statue of the goddess, meteorite
embedded in her brow, is majestically carried to her temple and
a series of religious dramas and entertainments follows.
Clay statues of the gods were made in ancient
times just as statues of saints are sold today at Catholic
shrines. Attis was depicted in his death throes drenched in
blood, then serene after his resurrection, androgynous, released
from his worldly sins and surrounded by solar rays. Or he was
shown as a child, naked and dancing for joy. Cybele was depicted
much like the virgin Mary with a baby or babies.
April Fool Carnival
|April Fool Carnival April 1
and the carnival of the April Fool, or Carnival King, or
Prince of Love, all originally synonymous with Attis.
first of April is the day we remember what we
are the other 364 days of the year."
He was also identified with Green
George of the Old Roman Pahilia, honored on Easter
Monday with sacrificial hanging of the god's effigy on a
Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1564,
April 1st was observed as New Year's Day throughout the
Roman Empire and as far away as India. The New Year was
originally celebrated from March 25 to April 1. The
first accounts of April Fools day do not occur till the
16th century so it is left to the historians to
speculate how the Feast of Fools evolved. The most
popular theory was that the general populace played
tricks on or had tricks played on them by those who
refused to shift their Spring New Year date to the
Winter Solistice date of January 1st.
|At the Ludi, plays were held in
temporary wooden theatres constructed before the Magna
Mater's temple. At least four plays by Terence and one
by Plautus (the two great Roman comic playwrights some
of whose work survives) were performed at these Ludi.
There is some evidence that the plots of the plays
sometimes treated themes in the mythology of the Magna
Mater. Gradually, however, the Ludi began to feature
mimes, which could have been of a bawdy or politically
satiric nature. In addition to theatrical
performances, these Ludi came to include spectacles
(horse races and perhaps other athletic competitions) in
the Circus Maximus, in the valley between the Palatine
and Aventine hills, visible from the goddess' temple.
While lesser competitions were held on the 4th through
the 9th, the big day was the 10th when the chariot races
were held. On that day, according to Ovid's description
(Amores 3.2. 43 ff.) the Romans led a parade of statues
of the gods from the Capitol down through the Forum and
then through the markets to the Circus Maximus.
|Easter can be celebrated
anywhere from March 22
to April 25. This is because the early observation of Easter was
determined by early churches to be on the first Sunday following
the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox
Easter-the colored Easter egg, the rabbit, and the Easter lily
are all part of the Easter holiday. These symbols all came from
the celebrating the victory of spring over winter, of life over
death, with rituals to the Gods and Goddesses. Most pagan cults
had a holiday to celebrate the rebirth of life in the annual
cycle and most of what people commonly
associate with Easter is pagan in origin; the rest is
The citizen of the first-century
world could adopt the philosophy of neo-Platonism, or that of the
Pythagoreans, the Epicureans, the Cynics or the Stoics. He or she could
join the new cults, those of Asclepius, or Dionysus or that of Orphism,
or become initiates of the mystery religions of Isis, Cybele or Mithras.
If a Jew, he or she could embrace cultic religion, worshipping or
offering sacrifices in the Temple or attending the great Jewish feasts.
He (less so she) could throw in his lot with the Zealots to fight for
national liberation from the Romans. He could retire, on the other hand,
from political or national life to lead a monastic life as an Essene,
awaiting God's supernatural intervention in history, his sending of the
Messiah, the dawn of the apocalyptic age, the restored temple, the new
heaven and the new earth.
By the cusp of the 5th century it was time to consolidate under a chosen
prophet and the winner was Jesus and Christianity. Roman Emperor
Theodosius (379-95) consolidated Christian dominance once and for all
with his 380 decree,
"We brand all the senseless
followers of the other religions with the infamous name of heretics, and
forbid their conventicles assuming the name of churches."
A series of fourteen edicts followed, one per year,
that both outlawed all pagan creeds in competition with Christianity and
mandated the destruction of their temples. The most notorious of the
measures against pagan religions imposed by Theodosius, in either 389 or
391, was the destruction of the Temple of Serapis located in Alexandria.
The grand metal and bejeweled statue of Serapis was totally smashed, and
the famous and irreplaceable library of
Alexandria adjacent to the temple
was also destroyed at the same time.
Peters Cathedral in the Vatican is built right on top of the old temple
of Magna Mater, the first and last Great Mother Goddess. While the old
shrine of Mithras can be found here your imagination is needed to
imagine the shrine to the oldest widely worshipped deity who emerged
from the first city at Catal Hüyük, 8000 years ago.
|The Cult of Magna Mater, the
Great Mother, is probably the oldest religion of all.
This statue is over 8,000 years
old and is the mother goddess Cybele about to give birth sitting
on a throne formed by 2 leopards.
It was found at
Çatal Hüyük [Catal Huyuk] in present day
Turkey near the site of the city of Ephesus. The world's oldest
city and according to the Old Testament, the area of Mount
Ararat in Turkey that the Ark of Noah came to rest and the
people began to repopulate the earth after the great flood
following the ice age.
Great Age of Cancer
|Most often Cybele's (Rhea's)
symbol is a pair of lions, the ones that
pulled her celestial chariot and were seen often, rampant, one
on either side of the gateways through the walls to many cities
in the ancient world.
|Cybele had always a strong
affinity for the great cats, and her priestesses retain it to
some extent. By praying to the Mother they can make all great
cats look upon them as their friends, and also obey them. Egypt
also made a strong association between the goddess and cats.
|According to Ovid, it was
Cybele transformed the heroine Atalanta and her husband
Hippomenes or Melanion into lions, because Aphrodite had caused
the newly wedded couple to
her temple. Cybele harnessed the lions to her golden chariot.
festival of intoxication was documented by
Herodotus in the 5th century
|Agdistis was born when Zeus
masterbated on Cybele's sacred rock (Zeus had tried,
unsuccessfully, to seduce Cybele). His spilled semen impregnated
the earth with the hermaphrodite. Later, because of this, Cybele
gave birth to Agdistis, who was androgynous and immensely
strong. Because Agdistis was uncontrollable, Dionysus
managed to trick him into emasculating himself. Dionysus
castrated Agdistis by tying his male genitals to a tree while
Agdistis slept; the genitals were torn off when Agdistis moved
A great river of blood pours forth from
Agdistis's wound and is absorbed by the earth from which spring
forth all manner of flowers.
From Agdistis's blood, a pomogranate tree
sprang up. Nana, a king's daughter, ate its fruit and gave birth
to Attis. Although both Cybele and Agdistis lusted after him,
Attis was ordered to marry the Phrygian king Midas' daughter. In
a jealous rage, Agdistis drove the wedding party crazy. The
princess cut off her breasts and Attis cut off his genitals.
From the blood, violets sprang up, and an almond tree
Attis was a typical "god without a father,"
the Virgin's son. He grew up to become a sacrificial victim and
Savior, slain to bring salvation to mankind. His body was eaten
by his worshippers in the form of bread [the Eucharist of Attis].
He was resurrected as "The Most High God, who holds the universe
together." Like his priests he was
castrated, then crucified on a pine tree, where his blood poured
down to redeem the earth. (Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of
Myths and Secrets, p. 77)
religious historians believe that the death and resurrection
legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before
the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of
Jesus' life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable
to Pagans. Others suggest that many of the events in Jesus' life
that were recorded in the gospels were lifted from the life of
Krishna, the second person of the Hindu Trinity. Ancient
Christians had an alternative explanation; they claimed that
Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming
of Christ in order to confuse humanity.
The priesthood of Cybele was composed of
castrated males, which parallels the celibate priesthood of
Catholicism. The basilica of Saint Peter’s, according to some,
stands upon the former site of Cybele’s main temple in Rome. The
ruins of another temple to Cybele / Magna Mater can still be
seen today in Rome on Palatine hill.
|"Varro states that the
goddess was brought from a shrine called the Megalesion in the
city of Pergamon while Ovid located the Mother's home on Mount
Ida near the ancient city of Troy, which was under Pergamene
control at that time. Livy seems to combine the two traditions
in reporting that the Romans sought the help of the Pergamene
king Attalos I in obtaining the goddess from Pessinous.
Precisely what the Romans obtained is described in several
sources: it was a small dark sacred stone not formed into any
iconographic image, that had fallen to the shrine of Pessinous
from the sky."
---Roller, In Search of God the Mother, p. 265.
|Legend has it that some
time after the founding of Rome, the Sibyl at Cumae offered nine
of her prophetic books for sale to Tarquinius Superbus, the
Seventh (and last) legendary King of Rome. Tarquinius refused to
pay what was demanded, so the Sibyl burned three of the books.
When he still refused to pay the price, the Sibyl burned another
three, and Tarquinius finally paid as much for the three as she
had demanded for the original nine. The books were kept in three
Temples, those of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva on the Capitoline
Hill. Thereafter, the Sibylline Books could only be consulted by
an act of the Senate.
“First thing of all is to revere the gods, especially Ceres: to
her greatness dedicate the yearly rites. . . . Let no-one put
his sickle to the corn without a wreath of oak-leaves on his
head, or giving Ceres an impromptu dance, and singing verses to
Georgics I. 338 - 50).
|The Greeks colonised Asia
Minor after the Trojan War and found worship of the Goddess
everywhere. She was absorbed into their mythology about the 8th
century BCE , though not willingly at first. Various stories
tell of how a priest of Cybele appeared in Athens attempting to
spread the religion. He was killed by the locals by being thrown
into a pit. A plague followed and they received an oracle
bidding them to appease the murdered man. This they did by
building the Metroon (temple of the Mother), which also served
as a repository of laws.
"Together come and follow to the
Phrygian home of Cybele, to the Phrygian forests of the goddess,
where the clash of cymbals ring, where tambourines resound,
where the Phrygia n flute-player blows deeply on his curved
reed, where ivy-crowned maenads toss their heads wildly."
Frame drums are among the oldest and most
versatile of drums. Most cultures have some type of frame drum;
the Egyptian Riq, the Brazilian pandeiro, the kanjira from south
India, the middle eastern tar and bendir ,and the native
American versions are but a few of the available frame drums.
They are very similar to tamborines.
Pan drums have a simple structure with strong spiritual and
entertaining effects. They are usually round, made of wood with
animal skin and sometimes metal rings or plates incorporated
into the drum to provide jingle.
An introduction on how to play pandeiro @ emiliano.com
A star in the great 21st century world unity parade -
Carnaval San Francisco
|The early Christians were
determined to destroy the cult and St Augustine condemns Her as
a "demon" and a "monster" and the Gallae were "madmen" and
"castrated perverts". In the 4th century CE Valentinian II
officially banned the worship of Cybele, and many of her
followers perished at the hands of zealous Christians.
Justinian continued the persecution of the
cult and the Gallae. Under his reign, transgendered persons, and
those indulging in same sex eroticism had their property
confiscated, sacred texts burned, temples raised; they were
tortured, forced to commit suicide, or burned alive.
It made its last appearance under
the pagan revival of Eugenius in AD 394
By the start of the 6th century CE, the Cult
and the ancient Gallae were extinct. Elements of the cult were
transferred into Christianity in a manner similar to that of
Isis. There is a much of Cybele and Isis in the Virgin Mary.
"The Dead Pan"
Cybele's great turret
Rocks and crumbles on her head;
Roar the lions of her chariot
Toward the wilderness, unfed,
Scornful children are not mute
"Mother, mother, walk afoot
Since Pan is dead."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
|There is a long discussion
in Hippolytus (Refutation of All Heresies, V, i-v), who
wrote about 210 A. D., concerning the Naasenes, one of several
Christian heresies deriving certain tenets from the Phrygian
According to them, when Jesus declares that
"there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the
kingdom of heaven's sake," he was simply repeating an injunction
which had been taught throughout Asia Minor by the cult of Attis
for more than a thousand years. Hippolytus elaborates by adding
that, according to the Naasenes, "the ineffable mystery of the
Samothracians, which it is allowable" only for "the initiated to
know" was precisely the same as that proclaimed by Christ when
He declared, "If ye do not drink my blood, and eat my flesh, ye
will not enter the kingdom of heaven." This flesh-and-blood
sacrament, states Hippolytus, is according to the Naasenes,
called Corybas by Phrygians as well as by those "Thracians who
dwell around Haemus." Hippolytus continues that Attis prohibited
all sexual intercourse and quotes his Naasene source as follows:
"Hail, Attis, gloomy mutilation of Rhea. Assyrians style thee
thrice longed-for Adonis, and the whole of Egypt calls thee
Osiris, . . .; Samothracians, venerable Adam; Haemonians,
Corybas; and the Phrygians name thee at one time Pappa, at
another time God . . . or the Green Ear of Corn that has been
reaped" (Ibid., V, iv)
of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living beings.
There you come to appreciate the real sanctity of the earth
itself, because it is the body of the Goddess."
in Comics - The Marvel Comic Book Character
|Very little has been
revealed about Cybele's past. She married Zuras, ruler of the
Eternals of Earth, before the rise of the civilization of
ancient Greece. Zuras and Cybele had one known child, Azura, who
later took the name Thena. Although Cybele was the consort of
Zuras, she evinced no interest in participating in the great
events of Eternals history, such as their encounters with the
are Trademarks of
Character, permission pending