"What caused the origin and spread of Moon Goddesses from 8,000b.c.e. to 2000 b.c.e?
There are three important factors that contributed to the birth of Moon Goddesses. The first is the transition from hunting and gathering to agricultural food production between 8,000 b.c.e. and 6,000 b.c.e., which is known as the Neolithic Period. Second,
the relationship between lunar cycles, women, and agriculture. The third factor is the beginning of the Cancerian Age around 8,000 b.c.e.
...Tribal leadership and matriarchy characterize Neolithic culture. Its religion and art were based on the concept of the mother earth...Great Mother Goddesses became associated with food or plant growth, the moon and women. There is a definite relationship between plant growth, water, and the moon. Water, which is essential for plant growth and life in general, is affected by the phases of the moon. As the rela-
tionship of the moon to the earth was recognized, early agriculturalists transferred the mother earth concept to the moon.
Food production during the Neolithic period was primarily the woman's task. Scholars' claim that women were the primary discoverers of agriculture and assumes, therefore, that women controlled the activity. Olson concludes that at Catal Hayuk, (in southwest Asia) agriculture was replacing hunting as the preeminent source of food and wealth and that the women controlled the new form of wealth and status.
Observation of the moon's effects during the Neolithic period, by women, and their own association with giving life, probably coincided with the discovery of agriculture. Harding explains the relationship between women the moon and agriculture as follows:
In primitive communities the moon is frequently called the Lord of Women.
For the moon is regarded, not only as the source of woman' ability to bear
children, but also as the protector and guardian of women in all they're spe-
cial activities. In such tribes the women have charge of all matters concern-
ing the food supply except the hunting and killing of the game...For it is gen-
erally thought that only women can make things grow because they alone are
under the direct guardianship of the moon...For primitive people consider that
women must be of the same nature as the moon not only on account of their
tendency to "swell up" as the moon does, but also because of their monthly cy-
cle, which is of the same duration as the moon's. The word for menstruation
and the word for moon are either the same or are closely related in many lan-
Briffault also supports this position and purports a relationship between the economic
system of ancient societies and the form of reckoning one's relations, i.e. whether it is matrilineal or patrilineal. In agricultural societies the social order is matriarchal and in pastoral ones it is patriarchal.
The development of agriculture, in its higher form, and the consequent estab-
lishment of a regular food supply was the great turning point in human history.
...For so long as men possessed no fundable wealth, marriage tended to remain
matrilocal and the social order matriarchal, except where male domination was
established by brute force...The domestication of animals...was commonly used
to buy off the claim of women and of their families to the services of
husbands...On the other hand, where agriculture developed on an imp-
ortant scale, the matriarchal order has often persisted...The matriar-
chal character of society has also been preserved among many African
peoples. Where agricultural civilization evolved without anypreceding
pastoral phase, their traditional association with agricultural magic or
religion enhanced the matriarchal position of women, women retaining
for a long time the character of priestesses.
The development of agriculture as a female function and its relationship to the structure of the society, both economically and culturally, gave women control of the two important aspects of any society. Women's control over the economic and cultural/social components extended into the religious realms allowing them to create deities in their own image and for their own particular needs. As priestesses, they developed and administered rituals created to honor, worship, and sustain their deities. Since it was the woman who was responsible for giving and sustaining life through childbirth, and the growth of crops through farming, her role was extremely important to thesurvival of the society. A monumental task of this sort surely would require supernatural assistance."