Mythology: Mythology and Birth


The fears surrounding birth and childbearing were inevitably stronger in days when mothers and children stood in greater danger of death, and thus supposedly were menaced by evil. They were regarded as polluted, and therefore dangerous to others. Nahuam goddess of childbirth, Tiacolteuti, for example, was also known as the goddess of sexual vice, and eater of filth. Her children, however included the god of Maize and the goddess of flowers.

Mythology abounds in tales if unnatural births: divine beings, not being subject to the same laws as man could determine their own methods of creations. Sometimes a child was born to a barren mother, such a birth was seen as an intervention of the gods.

Another common theme is the Virgin Birth. The Ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster, for example is believed to have been the Son of the supreme God Ahura Mazda, and born of a virgin.

A child might even be conceived after the death of its father. An Egyptian myth recounts how the falcon-headed God Horus the younger son of Iris and Osiris, was conceived by the Goddess after her husband was murdered by the evil God Set.

In Hindu myth, the goddess Parvati fashioned the god Ganesa out of the surf on her skin, as a guard against her husband Shiva, whose habit of surprising her in the her bath which she resented.

In Green myths too, births of the Gods took a variety of strange forms, even when the union of their parents was of the conventional human pattern. The Goddess Athena was the daughter of Zeus by Metis, But Zeus swallowed the unborn child. When the time came for her birth, Hephatestos, son of Zeus and Hera, slit open Zeus' head with an axe and out sprang Athena fully grown and armed. Myth tells how Zeus also bore his own son Dionysus. The mortal mother Semel had died of seeing her divine lover in all his splendor and Zeus rescued the child by sewing it into his thigh until it was time for the birth.

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