Scratching the Surface

This is a honeycomb world. It hides a hollow heart. The truth of nature, wrote the philosopher Democritus, lies in deep mines and caves. The stability of what is seen and felt beneath our feet is an illusion, for this life is not as it seems. Below the surface, there are cracks and fissures and pockets of stale, trapped air; stalagmites and helactites and unmapped dark rivers that flow ever downward. It is a place of caverns and stone waterfalls, a labyrinth of crystal tumours and frozen columns where history becomes future, then becomes now. For in total blackness, time has no meaning. [John Connolly, The Killing Kind, 2001]

 

The past it seems, is destined to bury itself in one way or another (sometimes with a little help). Archaeologists often make reference to our ‘buried history’. They are of course generally speaking of the treasures that sleep beneath our feet, covered by years of soil, sand or water. The hidden past may also dwell in the depths of a dusty book, the words of a song or nursery rhyme and of course within the murky recesses of our minds. But what happens when the past raises it head? Can it then change perception of the present or indeed carve a new path for the future?

Hidden within this weeks headlines and stories was a humble report on an archaeological discovery in Israel. The discovery is one that seems to confirm some historian’s belief that the ‘God’ of the bible wasn’t always worshiped as a single deity. Discovered in the soil of Tel Motza,  were remains of a temple containing carved female images inscribed with prayers to a ‘Divine Couple’. The carvings have been dated to a time just before the  Hebrew bible was written. It has been suggested that before the region became monotheistic the people of the area worshiped many gods.

“Interestingly, there are vastly more female figurines and representations found on shrines than there are male ones. The evidence points to the worship of at least two deities.” -archaeology writer Julia Fridman, Haaretz

“increasing evidence of Israelites worshipping several gods – including one who may have been seen as Yahweh’s wife” – Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou of the University of Exeter .

So what does this mean for the future?

Well, many cultures have always worshiped the divine as both male and female, this we know. But what about the religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) that have sprouted from the early texts of the Hebrew bible ? Whole systems of belief are set around the early constructs of the bible, could their followers ever accept that the Yahweh was one of many? Could there ever be room for a female deity amongst the candles on a church alter? In Neo Pagan religions and some that sprout from the Hindu faith, often see their many gods and goddesses as facets on the face of the divine diamond; all showing a different aspect of a supreme being. I wonder if this philosophy could ever be adapted to the worlds largest religions. Could it be a brick in the bridge of equality that is ever changing the face of the Christian church?

One doesn’t have to be of a spiritual disposition to realise that this may well have the potential to change not only religions, but  the cultures they often inhabit.

On the other hand of course, the world may turn their hand to reshuffling the find to the bottom of the deck. The story itself was a tiny grain on the vast beach of rolling news and media. Perhaps the carvings will remain hidden, this time in the bottom drawer of a museum archive.  Could one small discovery really hold the power to change centuries of belief? And on that note, does it have the right to? Philosophies that span decades all grow from a seed thought, but do they all belong to the original thinker?

Time will undoubtedly tell.

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