Ms. Gokturk


Identifying the “Great Goddesses”

Etiology, Ritualization & Eschatology








Osiris (brother/husband)

Persephone (daughter)

Attis (son)

Adonis (lover) (page 94-95)



Osiris is killed by Set (evil brother) twice! Set builds a special box to trick Osiris, sets him off on Nile. The second time, he chops him into 14 pieces

Persephone (AKA Kore or “maiden”) is abducted by Hades; the virgin on the meadow

Attis dies from self mutilation (or is killed by Cybele in some versions); castration is result of mother’s jealousy for his falling in love with a nymph

Adonis is killed by wild boar while out on hunt



The mourning

Searches far and wide for Osiris, mourning loudly and disrupts human activity (farming, commerce, etc.). Wanders to Byblos after children tell her the box floated there. She puts herself at the water’s edge to be found by Astarte’s maidens.

Wanders earth searching for daughter. Neglects to provide harvest. Initially foes not eat for 9 days. When she comes to Metainara’s palace, she refuses sweet water opting instead for barley water laced with mint. After her stay at Eleusis, she wanders again, searching for Persephone. It is the worst year for humans because her neglect causes famine.


While mourning, takes Attis’ body to a cave.

Kisses dying youth wishing she could join him in Underworld.

Life à Death à Life à pattern


Three phases:





Osiris is resurrected through magic and Horus is conceived. Nephthys (Isis’ sister and Set’s wife) helps her find secret place to raise baby Horus. Horus is killed by Set’s scorpions and resurrected by Isis through magic. Horus is the intermediary god b/w life and death.

Persephone spends 1/3 of year with Hades in Underworld and emerges so spring occurs again. She will never be carefree again. Once humans know of death, they can’t go back to innocence. She dies every year. Because of Xenia, she must return.

Cybele restores Attis to the living and there is celebration; flowers spring from Attis’ blood. Resurrection. Life is celebrated in the reunification phase – jubilation.

Aphrodite quarrels with Persephone after Venus has her sit him. Persephone will not return him and they must share him half the year. He chooses to spend one third of year with Persephone and the rest with Aphrodite. Aphrodite may not retrieve him again from Underworld.

Great Nurturer



Mater Deum Magna

The Great Mother



Searches for Osiris in disguise. See 172 in packet. Set’s box is lodged in tamarisk tree in Byblos, and has been used as a column in King Melcathus’ palace. Isis arrives at watering place and Queen Astarte’s maidens are anointed with her aroma. Astarte has Isis become her son’s nurse. At night, she anoints baby in fire to make him immortal but Astarte screams, ruining the procedure. Isis reveals herself in her true form.



Searches for Persephone in disguise and comes to Eleusis. Meets Queen Metaneria’s maidens at watering place, and the Queen wants her to nurse her son, Demophoon. At night, she anoints him with ambrosia and fire, but the queen screams, ruining his chance at immortality. Having offended the goddess who reveals herself in her full splendor, she must build a temple at Eleusis and worship her.


She lets the world suffer as she suffers when her daughter is gone. The upper world mimics the underworld: cold, barren, lifeless.

Cybele is the Virgin Mother, and she miraculously conceives Attis by eating a pomegranate or almond.


She is identified with Demeter and Gaia (earth mothers) but also dark goddesses like Hecate.


She loves her son soooo much, she is thrown into a jealous rage when she discovers he’s in love with a beautiful nymph. She sends a madness to punish him, and he cuts his own penis off.

She has a love interest in Adonis since his birth!


*She sends her biological son, Cupid, to destroy the beautiful Psyche, but he falls in love with her and must hide her away so his mom won’t find out! Later, Aphrodite is ruthless in making Psyche suffer.



Osiris Cult & Cult of Isis (prior to 3100 BC)

Ankh (tyet) represents eternal life


Mummification (wax, linens, different body parts given attention)


Temples built at each of 14 locations on Nile where his body parts were recovered. Ceremonies performed inside temples by priests witnessed only by chosen initiates. Priests brought out sacred chest containing a small golden coffer, into which they poured some potable water; Osiris found inside “resurrected.” Then, kneaded fertile soil with the water...and fashion a crescent-shaped figure, which they clothed/adorned, thus regarding gods as the substance of Earth and Water.


Festival of Ploughing

(1600 BC)

Nine day fast (purgation)

Pilgrimage beginning in Athens, walked to Eleusis along sacred way. Shouted obscenities (aischrologia , or abusive speech) at certain points to celebrate Iambe’s caring of Demeter.

Procession with swinging branches. Fast is broken with barley water with mint mixture (kykeon). Some theories say the barley may have had a mold which induced psychedelic visions.


Corn, serpent (phallic)/ kiste (a basket or chest (yonic)

The chest has been said to contain a serpent, an egg, and sacred seeds


Members: Priests & priestesses, initiates, others who had participated at least once, and the Epopteia (those who have achieved enlightenment). The mysteries were supposed to reveal a reenactment of the Demeter story, scared things revealed, and sacred things said. Initiates held the secrets; they believed in a reward in the afterlife


Phrygian deity (8th century BC)





Yonic symbols: Caves, almond, pomegranate


Phallic symbols: Corn, sticks


Conception and death March 25th; birth is December 25th; Black Friday is death (Day of Blood); rises from dead on third day – a day of celebration – Hilaria


Priests are called Galli. After castration wore feminine clothes and assumed feminine role for goddess.

Adoniac Syrian cults.


He becomes a god of vegetation,


Women in Athens would plant "gardens of Adonis" quick-growing herbs that sprang up from seed and died.

The Festival of Adonis celebrated by women at midsummer by sowing fennel and lettuce, and grains of wheat and barley. The plants sprang up soon, and withered quickly, and women mourned for the death of the vegetation god

Sacred objects

Horus eye: put in Osiris’s dead mouth for power


Barley water laced with mint (kykeon)

Corn and kiste (sacred chest)


Pine tree

Phallus representations: sticks, staffs


Anemone: short lived beautiful flower