From the Ancient times mothering, religion and spirituality are connected very closely. In ancient times mothering was respected and strongly connected with soul and fertility in different mythologies. When Christianity was invented the image of the Blessed Virgin was greatly esteemed.
Ancient Goddesses and the Blessed Virgin are not the single examples of respectful attitude of our ancestors to mothering and motherhood.
In Ancient Greek mythology Olympic Gods often fell in love with Greek women and famous heroes who saved Greece from awful monsters and disasters were born.
The respect to the institution of motherhood was highly developed in Ancient Egypt as Isis was an embodiment of female beauty, magic mothering and fertility. Different statues and bas-reliefs showed the goddess breast feeding her son, who undertook pharaoh appearance. Isis was considered to be the mother of all pharaohs who considered being earthly embodiment of Horus.
Christianity is probably the one and the most strongly spiritually connected the institution of motherhood and the God. Almost all the women regarded in the Bible as honest and respectable are usually showed as excellent mothers. And all the men who were protected and supported by God were traditionally having big families with many children.
The institution of motherhood was honored as the highest respect of God and noted strong spiritual connections between the family and God as God blessed the parent with so many children. The Bible was written many centuries ago but the sacred meaning and special spiritual bound between God and motherhood are observed even by contemporary interpreters of the Bible.
Giving a birth to the child is showed as a sacrament. The woman is giving the new life and the new hope. The birth of Jesus Christ was actually associated as giving the new hope to the Earth as he was sentenced to die for the sins of the people. Maria, who gave birth to the Godson, is honoured in all Christian communities as an example of respectfulness and motherhood.
The Italian artists of Renaissance always showed Godmother with a baby on her hands, either blessing or being breast fed. This image of the Blessed Virgin identifies the respect to the mothering institution and acknowledgement of motherhood consequence the society. The growth of attention to the mothering is absolutely clear. The Great Plague vanished the inhabitants of Europe at that time it caused serious changes in the social attitude to the institution of motherhood. The Blessed Virgin Godmother, patroness of motherhood was prayed to revive the nations.
Motherhood has always been respected by Christianity as an institution but also the opinion, that mothering is the main female duty and obligation. The woman is represented as loving mother and protector of family institutions and motherhood if her first and main responsibility. The influence of church was great at that times and it is probably on of the main reasons for such big families with many children.
In today’s world, the majority of existing religious movements respect mothers and mothering as an institution. There arte also special Christian movements which unites religious women. But in contemporary world not so many attention is devoted to religion and the sacred meaning of mothering institution. The attitude of contemporary society have changed a lot and there have been found lots of facts in religious mothering that infringe female rights and do not leave any other job for women but being a mother’. In contemporary society it will be very hard to appellate by religious dogmas to ideal form of family structure.
In contemporary world greater attention is devoted to the examination of the certain family problems. And many religious stories could give numerous examples of female rights violation. Even the motherhood is respected and honoured. The contemporary world wishes contemporary solutions for a number of problems that have developed in the process of motherhood evolution. And it will be very hard to imagine contemporary mother using recommendations dating back to the ancient times. Contemporary world needs contemporary guideline. The Bible and other historical books could be regarded as description of historical development and attitude to the motherhood and mothering intuition.
Sources: Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. Mothering Religion and Spirituality. Spring/Summer 2005, Vol 7.1