[S]everal strands of Western tradition seek immortality rather than regeneration, attempting to sever the continuum of birth and death. This rupture devalues women: they become identified with morality (having brought persons into the world only to die) and separated from their power to overcome death through regeneration by giving birth. In the Iliad, men prefer to die at the hand of a warrior with the promise of immortality through fame rather than suffer natural death. In Christianity, men seek redemption from mortality, brought down upon humankind by Eve’s transgression, through a ‘second birth’ of the spirit, which is subsequent to embodied birth.
Besides disavowing the connection between birth and death that the Great Goddess represents, Western culture splits another continuum embodied in her: of maternity and sexuality. The early Great Goddess’s lover was also her son, an appropriate metaphor for the passion of nurturance, or birth passion. Even in Hesiod’s Theogony, a patriarchal Greek myth, Gaia’s (Mother Earth) husband Ouranos (Father Sky), is her son, to whom she gives birth to parthenogenetically. Western stories separate women’s desire from nurturance- splitting the mother-child bond- and canalize the loyalty between mother and child toward men, another way of diminishing women’s power. In the Greek pantheon, the powers of maternity and sexuality are divided among different goddesses governed by Zeus, who supersedes Gaia. In the Hebrew Bible, God commands Eve to give birth in pain, separates her from the snake- a symbol of the Great Goddess in her regenerative aspect- and limits her desire so that it extends only to her husband. Perhaps since it is split off from nurturance, passion in Western tradition becomes associated with death rather than renewal. Aphrodite’s lover is Aries, the god of war’s carnage; and stories of passionate lovers of passionate lovers in Western tradition usually end in death.
Robbie P. Kahn (Bearing Meaning: The Language of Birth)