Here we have a French woodcarving that is a tribute to those who kept the teachings of the Great Mother alive during the Christian era in Europe. She continued to be central in people's psyches. In the early days she was worshiped equal with Christ. Later , an astonishing percentage of the wealth, energy and artistic talent of the Middle Ages was devoted to the construction, sometimes over generations, of the cathedrals of Notre Dame, "Our Lady".
At the same time unassimilated reverence for the Goddess was threatened when church, state and the rising male-dominated medical profession allied themselves in attempts to eradicate the overlapping populations of Goddess followers, midwives, wisewomen and peasant revolutionaries. Within a period of a few centuries, an estimated nine million women, men and children were executed as witches in a suppression of matristic consciousness that continues even today.
Yet many kept the Goddess's tradition alive, both inside and outside the Church. This piece was probably made by someone who wished to portray Mary literally as the Mother of God. Closed, she is the traditional Virgin with Child. However, she may also be seen as the archetypal Mother, creatrix of life, holding the sphere of the world in her hand. Opening her reveals the truth: She contains God, Christ and the rulers of the spiritual and temporal spheres. To whom, then, are these pious worshipers offering their prayers.