Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Philip Browning HelselEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_233

Ancient Significance

Symbols of male and female parentage have been connected with the structure of the universe in religious and mythical imagination. In the understanding of many ancient cosmologies, the sky is seen as the father and the earth the mother, corresponding to the impregnation of the ground with rain and the earth’s generative capacities in producing plants (Jackson 1983, p. 88). In other ancient mythologies, the sun represents the male figure, while the moon represents the female (Jung and Kerényi 1949, p. 130). This identification of the terrestrial and heavenly forces with parental figures shows the importance of the original imprint of the parent upon the psyche of the culture.

However, the influence of the father has also come under close scrutiny. In discussions of prehistorical understandings of parenting, the debate has centered on questions about the father’s role in procreation. On the one hand, some scholars suggest that the father had no understanding of his...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pastoral Care and CounselingBoston College School of Theology and MinistryChestnut HillUSA