Blasphemous? Pagan? I suppose many Christians have called the many-breasted Artemis or Diana of Ephesus that, but when I saw her in a small museum in Selcuk, Turkey, three years ago, I was utterly fascinated. The museum was not well-lit and the many-breasted Goddess was closely nestled with many other artifacts. Until then I had known nothing about her and lingered a long while to photograph and think. In the ruins of Ephesus the remains of her Temple is in ruins, but all of Ephesus explodes with sacred energy. I was simply blown away, frankly.
Several sites I Googled describe the image of Diana (Artemis) of Ephesus as a specialized form of Diana from late antiquity that includes aspects of Ishtar, Isis, Cybele and Inanna. She is a comprehensive figure of the divine feminine, and was called "Queen of Heaven", "Magna Mater" (Great Mother), Mother of the Animals, and Lady of the Wild Beasts. The many pomegranate-like breasts and the varied wild beasts adorning Diana of Ephesus show her also as an image of Mother Nature herself, fruitful and providing for all living things. Her Temple at Ephesus in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) was so large and well-renowned that it was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
It is well known that the early Christians particularly detested the Pagan worship of this Goddess, and considered her cult a rival. Paul tried to lead an uprising against the Temple of Ephesus, converting as many of the worshippers as he could. Ultimately, Mary, Mother of Jesus, assumed many of Diana's traits, from the idea of Diana being a Virgin Goddess to her pose with outstretched palms which is so typical of many Mary statues. Diana of Ephesus' Temple was declared to be the final resting place of their "mother of god". The stones of Diana's Temple were eventually torn down by the Christians and used in their churches and other buildings. I have also seen remains of it in the British Museum in London.
When I have studied the religions and cultures of the world, I have always been fascinated by the female goddesses--many who have archetypal traits of the divine feminine.
I am in the third year of an Episcopal program four-year program called Education for Ministry. The first year I studied the Old Testament, and the second year was the New Testament. This year I am studying the history of the Christian Church, and the fourth year will focus on philosophy, theology and the modern church.
All my life I have been a seeker and in my 40s I was fortunate to be able to take my M.A. in Humanities with an emphasis on religious studies. Though a Christian, I continue to be utterly fascinated cross-culturally with humanity's need to find meaning. I must admit that I don't "need" organized religion dogmatically or doctrinally but I find great peace in belonging to a church family. It's like going to the gas station and getting a fill-up. I've drifted in and out of many religious traditions in my life, but I feel most at home in Christianity, and have strong leanings toward Eastern mysticism.
To see the divine feminine from many points of view, visit Rebecca's meme A Virgin a Day. We only have one day left until Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day.