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The One Goddess

Matthew Shirfield

‘From her everything, that is, is born’ wrote the Greek dramatist Euripides in reference to the ancient belief in matriarchal monotheism of the one Mother Goddess.

Throughout the entire Mediterranean there are several statues and statuettes which are believed to be dedicated to this generatrix and all-devourer. This belief stemmed from the concept of the eternal feminine; the ritual bearer of birth as well as of death.

Through studies of Aegean cultures, academics have determined that these statues were at times used for funerary purposes. Thus, the image of the absolute female, with her supernatural proportions that exceed the bounds of caricature, was not only a symbol of maternal nature but also a symbol of death and chaos.


Characteristically represented with exaggeratedly proportioned breasts and thighs, the fundamental meaning and role of this deity is that of the bringer and nurturer of life; the eternal Mother. At times recognised as Mother Earth or, as the Greeks called her, Gaia, this deity gave life and, in the end, absorbed it back within herself. Her role as the nurturer recalls Hesiod’s story (c.700 B.C.) of the origin of the cosmos emerging from one supreme female deity, where he refers to her as the ‘Broad-breasted Gaia, the secure lap of all.’ The fact that the Maltese word for ‘life’ is ħajja makes this element more fascinating.

This reference to the eternal Mother can also be found on the Maltese Islands, most clearly in the Gozo Ġgantija, Taxien, Ħaġar Qim and other temples which provide an architectural spiritual demonstration of these prehistoric beliefs. The temples are believed to have been constructed in the form of the One Goddess, allowing worshipers to enter through the womb so as to be reborn once more; a concept which is echoed in Christian baptism and Church architecture to this day.


'Goddess of Ħaġar Qim', c. 3600 B.C.

'Ġgantija Temples', c. 3600 B.C.

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