Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 193Muscovites worshiped a sacred group, composed of a woman with a male child in her lap, and another standing by her. They had likewise another idol, called the golden heifer, which, says Mr. Knight, "seems to have been the animal symbol of the same personage."[333:7] Here we have the Virgin and infant Saviour, with the companion (John the Baptist), and "The Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world," among the ancient Muscovites [Pg 334]before the time of Christ Jesus. This goddess had also the title of "Queen of Heaven.[334:1]
The ancient Germans worshiped a virgin goddess under the the name of Hertha, or Ostara, who was fecundated by the active spirit, i. e., the "Holy Spirit."[334:2] She was represented in images as a woman with a child in her arms. This image was common in their consecrated forests, and was held peculiarly sacred.[334:3] The Christian celebration called Easter derived its name from this goddess.
The ancient Scandinavians worshiped a virgin goddess called Disa. Mr. R. Payne Knight tells us that:
"This goddess is delineated on the sacred drums of the Laplanders, accompanied by a child, similar to the Horus of the Egyptians, who so often appears in the lap of Isis on the religious monuments of that people."[334:4]
The ancient Scandinavians also worshiped the goddess Frigga. She was mother of "Baldur the Good," his father being Odin, the supreme god of the northern nations. It was she who was addressed, as Mary is at the present day, in order to obtain happy marriages and easy childbirths. The Eddas style her the most favorable of the goddesses.[334:5]
In Gaul, the ancient Druids worshiped the Virgo-Paritura as the "Mother of God," and a festival was annually celebrated in honor of this virgin.[334:6]
In the year 1747 a monument was found at Oxford, England, of pagan origin, on which is exhibited a female nursing an infant.[334:7] Thus we see that the Virgin and Child were worshiped, in pagan times, from China to Britain, and, if we turn to the New World, we shall find the same thing there; for, in the words of Dr. Inman, "even in Mexico the 'Mother and Child' were worshiped."[334:8]
This mother, who had the title of "Virgin," and "Queen of Heaven,"[334:9] was Chimalman, or Sochiquetzal, and the infant was Quetzalcoatle, the crucified Saviour. Lord Kingsborough says:
"She who represented 'Our Lady' (among the ancient Mexicans) had her hair tied up in the manner in which the Indian women tie and fasten their hair, [Pg 335]and in the knot behind was inserted a small cross, by which it was intended to show that she was the Most Holy."[335:1]
The Mexicans had pictures of this "Heavenly Goddess" on long pieces of leather, which they rolled up.[335:2]
The annunciation to the Virgin Chimalman, that she should become the mother of the Saviour Quetzalcoatle, was the subject of a Mexican hieroglyphic, and is remarkable in more than one respect. She appears to be receiving a bunch of flowers from the embassador or angel,[335:3] which brings to mind the lotus, the sacred plant of the East, which is placed in the hands of the Pagan and Christian virgins.
The 25th of March, which was celebrated throughout the ancient Grecian and Roman world, in honor of "the Mother of the Gods," was appointed to the honor of the Christian "Mother of God," and is now celebrated in Catholic countries, and called "Lady day."[335:4] The festival of the conception of the "Blessed Virgin Mary" is also held on the very day that the festival of the miraculous conception of the "Blessed Virgin Juno" was held among the pagans,[335:5] which, says the author of the "Perennial Calendar," "is a remarkable coincidence."[335:6] It is not such a very "remarkable coincidence" after all, when we find that, even as early as the time of St. Gregory, Bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, who flourished about A. D. 240-250, Pagan festivals were changed into Christian holidays. This saint was commended by his namesake of Nyssa for changing the Pagan festivals into Christian holidays, the better to draw the heathens to the religion of Christ.[335:7]
The month of May, which was dedicated to the heathen Virgin Mothers, is also the month of Mary, the Christian Virgin.
Now that we have seen that the worship of the Virgin and Child was universal for ages before the Christian era, we shall say a few words on the subject of pictures and images of the Madonna—so called.
The most ancient pictures and statues in Italy and other parts of Europe, of what are supposed to be representations of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, are