Syncretism means the merging of different forms of belief or practice. The word comes from the description of the fusion of Cretan cities, and is often used in the religious context to describe how new religious and spiritual ideas moving into a culture merge with the ideas that already exist in that culture.We see this illustrated today by looking at the differences between European Catholicism and South and Central American Catholicism. The saints honored and the rituals practiced in Central and South America are heavily influenced by the traditions and rituals that existed there before European Catholicism was introduced. Another example of syncretism in action is Zen Buddhism in the United States, which has taken on a different flavor than Zen practiced in Japan, particularly in the position and role of women in the tradition.In antiquity, the mergers that occurred were even more significant.
When Roman conquerors invaded a new area, they would adopt the Gods and Goddesses of the people there, sometimes identifying those Gods and Goddesses as different names for deities already existing in Rome. For example, a local Goddess would be declared an aspect of Isis or Diana. When Christians took over new territory, either by force or by conversion, they used similar tactics. However, because the Christians believed in a single male God, they did not incorporate the local Gods and Goddesses as deities. They did bring them into Christianity, though, either by identifying them with important Christian figures, sometimes canonizing them as saints, or by turning them into evil demons who were enemies of the Christian figures.
[...] The role of mother was an essential aspect of the triple Goddess and an important role of the female in society. Asherah, the originally Canaanite Goddess who was worshiped in Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem for centuries, was called she who gives birth to the Gods. Cybele, the Goddess who was brought to Rome from Phrygia around 204 BCE and had a great temple in Rome, was known as the great mother of the Gods. Juno was another Roman Goddess known as a great mother after giving birth to the God Mars. [...]
[...] Mary the Mother of Jesus We have very little historical information about the mother of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel in the New Testament, very little is said of her. In Mark Jesus is at odds with his family, including his mother, at least at the beginning of his ministry. In that account his family goes out to restrain Jesus, because people are saying that he had gone out of his mind (Mark 3:21). When his mother, brothers, and sisters show up where Jesus is preaching to a crowd, they call to him to come to them. [...]
[...] The celebration of her is no longer the celebration of the role of the female in sexuality and reproduction; it is a celebration of the victory of spirit over flesh. A historical perspective on the way the story of Mary the mother of Jesus has been used to present some religious ideas and to suppress others may raise many questions for modern Christians and Christian cultures. Bibliography Albright, William Powell. Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan. NY: Doubleday & Co Angus, S. The Mystery-Religions. NY: Dover Publications Ashe, Geoffrey. The Virgin. London:Routledge & Kegan Paul Briffault, Robert. [...]
[...] The Virgin By 85–90 CE Mary the mother of Jesus was being portrayed as a virgin who was miraculously impregnated by a God, and gave birth to another God. The date of the birth was later identified as the modern December 25th, originally the date of the winter solstice, when the light begins to return to the world. In this role Mary was easily identified in ancient times as having taken on an important aspect of the triple Goddess, represented by several virgin Goddesses. [...]
[...] The infamous Inquisitor Torquemada declared that the Goddess Diana was the devil. The Goddesses Asherah and Astarte became the demon Ashtoreth, and the great Goddess Cybele was called the mother of demons. Hecate, a Greek Goddess associated with the underworld, became the queen of witches in the Middle Ages. D. The Queen of Heaven There was another aspect connected with ancient Goddesses throughout the ancient world, and that was the role of Queen of Heaven. Anat (in Greek; Anath among the Canaanites, Syrians, and Egyptians) was sometimes called the Strength of Life. [...]
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