by Bill Simpler, Spazhouse Analyst and Consultant
On the heels of my research into the canonization of Mother Teresa I continued to examine the concept of saints and sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time Roxanne and web designer deity, Caryl Butterley (www.caryl.butterley.net) were developing this website (the new home of Spazhouse, LLC – Intuitive Research) and I had an idea for this blog post. It turns out that there is a saint, actually two, of knowledge and wisdom in the realm of Catholic Saints, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Lawrence.
This got me wondering about the concept of saints or deities in all religions and cultures.
Specifically, were there revered figures in these cultures honoring knowledge? Well the short answer is Yes. It appears that every society from ancient times to the present hold knowledge and wisdom in such high regard that there is a patron saint in their honor.
We as noble beings hold information (knowledge, wisdom, learnedness) in such high regard that we have elevated it to that of a deity. Not surprising, as our sense of selves and our thirst for discovery set us apart from others on our planet.
In the ancient cultures there are many examples of this. Etruscans believe Menvra to be the god of wisdom; the Romans held Minerva the goddess of wisdom. But the Romans didn’t end there. Providentia was the goddess of forethought, Fabulinus the god who teaches children to speak, while Apollo was the Greco-Roman god of light, knowledge, intellect as well as the Sun. For ancient Greeks Athena is the goddess of wisdom as well as that of civilization and war strategy (hmm, must they go together?). Personifying knowledge and the Arts are the Muses.
Eastern philosophies and religions are not exempt. Saraswari is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and all literary arts including literature, speech and music. Ganesha is the god of intellect and wisdom. In Japan, Shinto is one of the gods of intellect and wisdom. Also in Japan, Benzaiten its the Japanese concept of the Hindi Sarawati and is the goddess of everything that flows: water, speech, words, music and knowledge.
Ancient Egypt is long known to have deities for human emotions and characteristics. Sia is the goddess of wisdom, Thoth is the deity of wisdom and believed to be scribe to the gods, Serapis was the god of knowledge and education. One of the more well-known is Isis the goddess of wisdom, health and marriage. (It’s rather unfortunate that in the 21st century we’ve come to know this deity as something evil and contrary to what was believed by Ancient Egyptians.)
There are countless other examples. In Celtic mythology Brighd is similar to Sarawati. Saint Brigid (back to the Roman Catholics) shares many of the Celtic goddess’ attributes and her feast day was originally the festival Imbolc marking the beginning of spring. It has been suggested that the saint is a Christianization of the goddess as have with many ancient deities and traditions.
Here at Spazhouse we are less apt to think of Knowledge in terms of a deity, but as a means to an end; fulfilling a client’s need to pursue their goals armed with the tools of Athena (or should that be Saint Thomas Aquinas …).