The Tradition of the Mother
By William White
Review by V. Caine
The Tradition of the Mother covers a broad spectrum of Traditions neatly compacted into one book, encompassing Europe, India and the Middle East. Through this, we discover how early Indo-European traditions reacted when they first encountered – and consequently syncretised with different Traditions.
The first chapter contains a comparison between Odin and Yaweh – which not only highlights the difference between Indo-European Traditions and Abrahamic Traditions, but also the exemplifies the radical difference betwixt the polytheist and the monotheist mindset. This then proceeds to take us on a journey through the spread of the peoples of Indo-Europe across Asia, Europe and the Ural region in Russia. Providing in depth narratives of the meta-historical processes at work in Egypt and Sumer, the earliest known civilizations are then explored. The earliest surviving religious manuscripts are also studied here– the Zend Avesta and the Rig Veda.
An extensive elaboration on the history of Bible and its origins in Egypt begins in the subsequent chapter revealing an extensive and intricate knowledge of the Middle East. Here we find that some content from the Bible is in fact borrowed from earlier, pre- Abrahamic Middle Eastern sources such as the Flood from the Epic of Gilamesh and other interesting mythological pieces relating to the origins of Set and Baal. After a fascinating exegesis into the origins of Genesis, it’s time to progress forward in history to Classical Greece. Here follows the root religions of Greece, and we are introduced to the ‘Tradition of the Mother’ proper via the Goddess Cybele, where the telluric Traditions clash with the uranic ones. This moves towards another group of people – the morally ambiguous Estruscans – whom occupy a central role in the author’s theory as a pivotal point for the transition of myths and Traditions in Europe. After this excursion into the apparently very unseemly world of debauch in ancient Etrusca we are back with the Hittites and the Middle East, and their often over-looked Indo-European ancestry, to be immediately followed up an chapter offering an interesting explanation as to the origins of the Abrahamic God.
Naturally, as per the title of the book we are then introduced to one of the central themes of the book, the civilization of the Great Mother, which as one would expect draws extensively from the work of previous authors exploring this line of research, notable J. J. Bachofen and Julius Evola so this section explores the concept of civilization from a dyadic point of view which is polarized into the respective dichotomies of Heaven/Earth and Matriarchal/Patriarchal, and pointing out which cultures were in which respective phase.
Next, a look at Akhenaten who was an interesting character in history and quite unique amongst the Egyptian pharaohs in number of regards – not only for his use of myth, but also for his unique crafting of myth around himself. For those unfamiliar with the history of Akhenaten this chapter provides a good introduction to one of Egypt’s most interesting pharaohs, who often gets over looked by history. And from, here – in the sands of dusky Egypt, we are suddenly whisked back to the frozen north again, to the mythos of Northern Europe to find an interesting comparison between the Norse and Egyptian Gods – of which the section on the Judgment of the Dead is particular intriguing. Then it’s on to the history and evolution of Goat Gods including demonology and the Margret Murray’s ‘God of the Witches’.
Finally, its back to Europe with a look at Britain and King Arthur and then finally onto Mithothyn in Saxo’s History of the Danes. The book then concludes with a chapter which provides an analysis of Thors battle with the Midgard serpent an as analogy for the battle over the waters.
All in all Tradition of the Mother presents a tantalizing smörgåsbord of Traditions and various ideas pertaining to the history of Indo-Europe, presented in one convenient title. Due to the diversity of content presented, there is guaranteed to be something there to entertain and educate the reader.