09 August 2011

Miscellaneous Musing #37

One observation that I've made (though not, heretofore, in print) about polytheistic religions is that the deity of the sky is always depicted as male, whereas that of the earth is always female; this can't be coincidence.  Early peoples must have noticed that, just as a woman cannot conceive a child without copulating with a man, the earth cannot bring forth crops (or even crabgrass) without being watered from the heavens.  It was only logical for people in a pre-scientific age to come to think of raindrops as the semen of a god in the sky, coming down to penetrate a goddess who personified the earth; the fact that plants need time to grow up from the soil, just as it takes an average of 274 days for a human baby to gestate in the womb, would have strengthened this identification between the forces of nature and the human sexes.  Of the aforesaid I've no doubt (even though, despite the well-established equation in primitive religions between natural and human fertility, I've never heard of anyone else propounding this theory); one can further speculate that this religious development, by promoting the idea of a god who has masculine attributes and lives in Heaven, may have helped prepare the way for belief in the existence of the one, true God.
(Since I developed this theory, I've received some confirmation of it in learning that, in China, "the earth couples with the dragon"—the dragon being a controller of weather—is a common phrase for rain.)