This is an edited excerpt from PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion, by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D., p. 73-74.
Philosopher Paul Ricoeur describes how in the “creation” story of the Enuma Elish, the creative act “which distinguishes, separates, measures and puts into order”, is inseparable from the murder of the “oldest gods” (who is in fact Goddess-Mother, Tiamat). She is murdered by the incoming god Marduk, The shedding of blood by the blade may be seen as a replacement of the “menstrual mind“ that separated and distinguished, that author Judy Grahn speaks of in her work Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World. Ricoeur goes on to describe this “criminal act”, this deicide, as “a victory over an Enemy older than the creator”[i] – thus tracing the historical outcome of a “theology of war” and the enemy behind all enemies; but it is Catherine Keller who notes that Tiamat’s sex is a salient fact.[ii] To state Her sex, is to state/“status” Her – this “Goddess-Mother”[iii] – as the Enemy within all enemies. It is to understand war as the act of a Cosmically and Maternally alienated mind – not as inevitable essential beastly nature as many have been taught in the last few millennia. Tiamat’s slaughter, is described graphically in the “creation” epic, as it is commonly known: her corpse is used “to create the present universe, slitting her in two like a fish, one part being heaven and the other earth.”[iv] As Joseph Campbell points out:
…(this) great creative deed of Marduk was a supererogatory act. There was no need for him to cut her up and make the universe out of her, because she was already the universe.[v]
[i] Paul Ricouer, The Symbolism of Evil, p.182 quoted in Catherine Keller, From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self, p.76.
[ii] Catherine Keller, From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self, p.77.
[iii] Barbara Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p.998.
[iv] Ninian Smart, The World’s Religions, p.201.
[v] Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers , p.170.
Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. NY: Doubleday, 1988.
Grahn, Judy. Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World. Boston: Beacon Press 1993.
Keller, Catherine. From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Ricoeur, Paul.The Symbolism of Evil. (trans. E Buchanan). Boston: Beacon Press, 1969.
Smart, Ninian. The World’s Religions. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983.