Rosemary Radford Ruether

in Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780520231467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940413 | DOI:

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This chapter examines how female symbols of the divine played out in the violent encounter between the Aztecs and their Spanish conquerors in Mexico in the sixteenth century. Spain sought to repress all the Aztec gods and goddesses in favor of a devotion to the Christian God the Father and his crucified son. Yet the very shock of this meeting and the mixture of the two peoples produced many apparitions of the central female symbol of Spanish Christianity, Mary, most notably in the apparition of Mary as Virgin of Guadalupe. This chapter also explores the extent to which this veneration of Guadalupe represents a syncretism of the Catholic Mary and a pre-Columbian veneration of a Mother Goddess, Tonantzin. It provides a case study of how the Catholic veneration of Mary, with its own roots in ancient Near Eastern goddess worship, was and continues to be a vehicle for the assimilation of goddess worship into Christianity from the conquest period to today.

Keywords: Mexico; Aztecs; female symbols; female divinity; Christianity; Mary; Virgin of Guadalupe; goddesses; Tonantzin; goddess worship

Chapter.  12734 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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