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Briggs, Katharine. An Encyclopedia of Fairies. New York: Pantheon, 1976.

Leach, Maria, ed., and Jerome Fried, assoc. ed. Funk & Wag-nall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Goddess In contemporary Witchcraft, the Goddess embodies the very essence of the Craft: she is the Great Mother, whose limitless fertility brings forth all life; she is Mother Nature, the living biosphere of the planet and the forces of the elements; she is both creator and destroyer; she is the Queen of Heaven; she is the MooN, the source of magical power; she is emotion, intuition and the psychic faculty. The Divine Force is genderless but is manifest in the universe in a polarity of the male and female principles. Most traditions of Witchcraft emphasize the Goddess aspect of the Divine Force, some almost to the exclusion of the HoRNED God, the male principle. The Goddess is called by many names, each one representing a different facet or aspect. The Goddess also is recognized in Pagan traditions.

Worship of the Goddess, or at least the female principle, dates back to Paleolithic times. It has been suggested by some anthropologists that the first "God" was a female, who, according to the earliest creation myths, self-fertilized and created the universe from herself and reigned alone; that early agricultural religions were dominated by Goddess worship; that gods prospered only when graced with a beneficence and wisdom of the Goddess; and that early societies may have been matriarchal. "From me come all gods and goddesses who exist," says Isis in Apuleius's The Golden Ass. Robert Graves, in The

The Virgin on the Crescent. The Blessed Virgin absorbed pagan elements. Here she is both Virgin and Mother, with a crescent moon, symbol of the Goddess, at her feet. Note face of the Man in the Moon. (ALBRECHT DÜRER, CA. 1499)

White Goddess (1948), made a case for a widespread earth and moon Goddess cult, especially among the Celts, but his theory is not supported by evidence.

Other scholars argue that existing evidence does not support those claims. While women have at times held status equal to men, there is no evidence that they have ever held superior status in a matriarchy. Goddess worship has been balanced by God worship and the worship of both male and female Supreme Deities. The sacred marriage of a Sky God and Earth Mother is a common theme in societies around the world.

Among the first human images found to date are the "Venus figures," naked female forms with exaggerated sexual parts, which date to the Cro-Magnons of the Upper Paleolithic period between 35,000 and 10,000 B.C.E. The Venus of Laussel, carved in basrelief on a rock shelter in southern France that apparently was once a hunting shrine, dates to ca. 19,000 B.C.E. She is painted in red ochre—perhaps suggesting BLOOD—and is holding a bison horn in one hand. Cro-Magnon cave paintings also depict women giving birth. A naked Goddess appeared

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