Sunday, July 6, 2008

Virgin Births

A recent jaunt through Google led me to think out virgin births. What was this thing that sparked that kind of thinking so far away from Christmas? I'll tell you later. But for now, I want to look at the virgin birth in mythology.

Obviously we have the birth of Jesus, but as we are talking about mythology (and I've already made it clear in this blog that I don't think active religions should be classified as mythology), I want to explore the others:

In Egypt, Mut-em-ua, the virgin Queen of Egypt, gave birth to the Pharaoh Amenkept III. This process is involved the god Kneph holding an ankh to her mouth and is represented on the walls of the temple of Luxor.

In Greece, Zeus gives birth all by himself to Athena (O.K., he cheated by swallowing the pregnant titanide Metis and letting her dissolve inside him before having Athena pop from his head, but hey! it still counts!)

Back to Egypt, some accounts of Ra's birth say tha Net is is mother and that he has no father.

A Phrygian god names Attis was born of Nana, a virgin who put an almond up to her bosom to get pregnant.

Perseus was born of a virgin, since his mother never "held hands," but rather was exposed to a golden shower of rain that was really Zeus in disguise. Maybe another cheat there...

Mithras (a god worshipped in the Roman empire pre-Christ, was said to have a virgin mommy (some stories forego the mom altogether and say he sprang from a rock). His birthday was on December 25th.

Krishna has a virgin mother. Buddha too was born of a virgin.

Hertha, an ancient Teutonic goddess was a virgin who gave birth to a son.

There are others. I think one of the interesting things about the research into the virgin birht, was that although I was trying to look for examples in mythology, I could not help but run into so many web sites that only exist to show their hatred for the virgin birth of Jesus story. Mary was called all sorts of things in these sites and none of them good. Nevertheless, this research was spawned (HA! Get it! Spawned!) by a summer swim team.

I help coach a summer league team of 4 - 18 year olds who have the mascot the Hammerheads. While I was cheering them on, I began to wonder what a female hammerhead was called. I figured when we cheered the girls on we could use that name (I know, I am a nerd - this team has existed for a few decades and nobody else had ever wondered that). As I began to look it up, the one story I kept coming across was from 2007 where a virgin hammerhead gave birth. That got my attention. Maybe we have a potential savior for all shark kind here. It appears that female hammerheads store up sperm for just in case they can't find a male when they need him. In this case, however, the female hammerhead (in captivity) never had contact with a male in the first place. So how did this happen? It made me smile to see all those other websites spewing out such hate saying that it was impossible for such a thing to happen, yet here we are.

By the way, a female shark is called . . . a female. Very original.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Gaia (who gave birth to Ouranos by herself) and Hera (who gave birth to Hephaestus, and maybe someone else) by taking some special herbs to get back at Zeus for having Athena (and Dionysus) by himself. :)

Mark Alford said...

I forgot to mention Aztec's Quetzalcoatl too. I'm sure we have others. I was thinking there was a Celtic virgin birth, but now I can't seem to think of it.