artemis-maia’s musings (October 2013)

Table of contents


It’s all in the stars: Virgo 23 August – 22 September

This time Eriko’s zodiac

Virgo:

Number: 6
Ruling Body: Mercury
Nature: Negative
Quality: Mutable
Element: Earth
Symbol: The Virgin
Colors: Navy Blue, Dark Gray, Brown
Metal: Mercury

The glyph of Virgo is said to be connected to conception of Jesus.
The symbol “The Virgin” originated from the star Spica in the constellation of Virgo.

Virgoans are refined, and a lover of order (cleanliness etc).
They are said to be conservative with a reserved manner and are sometimes seen as cold and critical.
They are very observant (love details), and are said to be patient.

Regarding friendships they are said to be selective however usually they are polite and soft spoken. They are also said to understand the problems of other people quite easily.

They are planning everything, every detail and its effect in their lives thus they are not very passionate people.

They are tacticians and are not very trusting.
They are well suited for careers in which details and analysis are required.

Typical Virgo careers:

something with medicine or law, writers and researchers

Eriko’s smile is described by Fujii as frozen and it’s said to be very stiff which prevented her from really rising in the modeling industry since she felt uncomfortable mainly because of the issues regarding Maki since Maki likes P1’s MC as well .

She doesn’t want to be a model forever and mostly works as a magazine model and still goes to college.
The P2 EP fanbook also mentions that she is too small for a professional career anyway. I think she made the right decision regarding college since she seems smart and loves to research and learn new stuff.

She becomes more and more natural which is symbolized with her Personae. Nike is made out of metal and is also a reference that Eriko’s father being a pilot while Gabriel looks like a model and Eriko behaves more naturally.

Myths:

Astraea (star maiden) daughter of Zeus and Themis or Eos and Astraeus is a celestial virgin, represents justice, and was a caretaker of humanity and she is said to have become the constellation Virgo itself.
She is said to have fleed from the wickedness of humanity and ascended to heaven.

Isis is said to be connected to the constellation Virgo quite often as well as Demeter/Ceres since sometimes Virgo is seen as holding a spike of corn, thus being connected to harvest.

In Greek mythology the story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter who had been abducted and taken to the underworld by Hades is often used in connection with Virgo as well.
Her mother ruined the harvests, the earth became infertile and the people were starving.
A compromise was found since Persephone should spend only a short time each year in the underworld, and when she was released Demeter permitted nature to resume its natural course.

Dike (“justice”) who was the spirit of moral order and was fathered by Zeus upon Themis, is connected to Virgo as well.

Also often used are Erigone (the daughter of Icarius of Athens) and Apollo’s and Chrysothemis’ daughter, Parthenos whose name means virgin and who died a maiden and was placed among the stars, or Apollo’s lover Coronis.

Mary is an obvious suggestion and some also see her as Eve.


Schwarzwelt

My really long article on Strange Journey: The mothers, Gnosticism, the demiurge, Mem Aleph and Mastema.

Schwarzwelt: Means Black World in German.

It is interesting that all are named ater constellations.
Antlia means “pump”, Bootes means “herdsman” (ox driver), Carina means “keel”, Delphinus means “dolphin, Eridanus is derived from the Eridanus river in Greek Mythology, Fornax means “furnace”, Grus means “crane” (crane bird) and Horologium means “clock”.

Ouroboros

-Ouroboros drawing from the alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra (2nd century Alexandria)

Ouroboros or Uroboros (tail eater/devourer) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail usually depicted as circular, although it is sometimes depicted in a lemniscate shape.

The Ouroboros often symbolizes cycles and recreation similar to a phoenix, “Die Ewige Wiederkunft” (eternal return which is a central aspect of Nietzsche’s philosophy according to which everything repeats itself forever)

It first emerged in Ancient Egypt in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld which described the god Ra’s union with Osiris in the underworld.
Two serpents, holding their tails in their mouths, coil around the head and feet of an enormous god.
Both serpents are Mehen, who in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey.
In Roman times, it frequently appeared on talismans, emblems etc. Used as a symbol for Saturn.
Plato also mentioned a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing.

Phanes/Protogonoshas been depicted as a deity emerging from a cosmic egg, entwined with a serpent. He is often equated with Mithras.
In Mithran mystery cults Mithra/s is sometime depicted with a snake.

In Norse mythology, it appears as the Midgard snake Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth.
In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok the Geatish king Herraud gives a lindworm as a gift to his daughter Þóra Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl’s bower and bites itself in the tail.
The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Þóra. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kráka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye.
This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

Gnosticism:

It’s a really important symbol for Gnosticism which is the reason why it was probably chosen:
The Gnostic text Pistis Sophia describes the disc of the sun as a 12-part dragon with his tail in his mouth.
The black and white halves from the “The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra” image might represent the Gnostic duality of existence (Yin & Yang like: Spirit is of divine origin and good; the body is inherently earthly and evil).
It is also related to the solar God Abraxas (a Gnostic solar deity associated with Yahweh, Yeshua/Yeshu/Jesus and Mithras. He was later turned into a demon), and signified eternity and the soul of the world.

-Chnoubis is an aspect of the Gnostic Demiurge/Yaldabaoth, and is also associated with Abraxas. The lion’s head represents the solar forces, enlightenment; the serpent, the lower impulses,earth.

In Gnostic texts it also indicated the boundary between the world and the pleroma of heaven.
Some believed the world serpent was the evil demiurge that shaped the world and guards the gateway of escape.

The Naassenes and Ophite Gnostics, believed that the ouroboros was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but rather than an villain, the serpent freed Adam and Eve by obtaining knowledge by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge (sounds familiar? Hello Paradise Lost and SMT).
The snake is also depicted as guarding the tree of life sometimes.
In fact the snake in these stories is sometimes Jesus. Jesus is said to have spread gnosis (knowledge).
Thus Jesus opens the eyes of humans and leads them away from the demiurge which is said to be the reason why the Old Testament and New Testament are so different.

The Serpent of bronze is well known by Christians because it is used by Jesus in the Gospel of John.
Jesus discussed his destiny with a Jewish teacher called Nicodemus by referencing a passage in Chukat of the Torah.
Jesus compared the raising up of the Son of Man/himself and the act of the Mosaic serpent being raised up, which is foreshadowing.
When sending out the Twelve Apostles. Jesus exhorted them, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”
Sophia and Gnosis are both connected to wisdom and Jesus is said to have rosen to divinity via gnosis(knowledge) in Gnosticism.

As a tarot symbol the Ouroboros was used as the ace of cups and Wheel of Fortune in decks

In alchemy, the Ouroboros is considered a material to create the Philosopher’s Stone.

Carl Jung saw the Ouroboros as an archetype: “The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow.”

The psycho analysis uses it as a metapher for the phase of a child in which it doesn’t differ between the interior and exterior world und doesn’t differ between genders. After this phase it developes the “me” thought process and the child differs between matriarchal and patriarchal.
Tiamat:

-Marduk vs. Anzu (Tiamat)

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian) Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial shining goddess of the salt water and consort of Apsu/Abzu (the god of fresh water). She is said to have roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. Their union is a Hierogamy.
The name Tiamat later equated with the sea in general.

When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh..

Tiamat is considered the embodiment of primordial chaos which is why it fits that she is always a chaos monster in SMT. Ironically Marduk is kinda a light/order god and it’s similar to the relationship between YHVH and Lucifer, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman etc.

She is often depicted as a sea serpent or dragon since The Enuma Elish depicts Tiamat giving birth to the first gods as well as dragons serpents, scorpion men and merpeople.
She is described with a tail, a thigh, a belly, shaking lower part, a mouth, an udder, ribs, a neck, a heart, a skull, eyes, nostrils, blood.

The deity Ea believed (correctly) that Apsu, who was upset, was planning to murder the younger deities who resided in Tiamat’s vast body since they woke up Apsu and Tiamat with their noise and doings.(Kinda ironic that you actually repeat waking up Apsu and Tiamat in Soul Hackers.)

Ea, who was actually warned by Tiamat captured Apsu took his insignia and killed him which angered Kingu/Qingu (unskilled laborer), Apsu’s and Tiamat’s son, who reported this to Tiamat. She now planned to avenge Apsu’s death since the gods residing inside her stopped sleeping.

She than created eleven offsprings who were all monsters to avenge Apsu’s death.
Kingu her own son became her new consort and she wanted him as leader of all gods. She gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him power.

Marduk (amar-Utu (“bull calf of the sun god Utu” or son of the sun) the son of Ea armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear overcame Tiamat.

He sliced Tiamat in half, and created heaven and earth out of her ribs. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. Kingu was captured and slain: his blood mixed with the red clay created humans.
Marduk took the plates and became the head of the pantheon.

The Tiamat myth is typical Chaoskampf (chaos fight):

A hero against a monster/dragon/sea monster etc.
See Apollo vs. Python for another example. This story is also a “justification” for Marduk becoming the head of the of the Babylonian pantheon.

Some see the Tiamat myth as a matriarchal deity being replaced by a typical YHVH like deity. In Sumerian mythology female deities are usually the older ones and creators. Nammu/Namma is another example.

Similar myths:

Thalassa(sea): is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. With sea god Pontus, she was the mother of the nine Telchines and Halia

Tethys:

is a Titaness and aquatic sea goddess, as well as sister and wife of Oceanus. She created the Nile, the Alpheus, the Maeander, and the Oceanids. She is portrayed as extremely ancient (her name sounds like the word for grandmother)

Thetis:

Thetis (“placer”) is a sea nymph and one of the fifty Nereids. She is a daughter of Nereus and Doris and often a granddaughter of Tethys.
An Alcman hymn exists that says that Thetis is the creator of the universe and sometimes she is combined with Metis who was devoured by Zeus.
Thetis’ marriage to Peleus is the start of the Troian War since Eris wasn’t invited and left behind a golden apple “to the fairest” which led to fights between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite and the Judgment of Paris. Thetis’ son Achilles became the main character of the Iliad and one of the most famous Greek heroic figures.
Maya:

माया (Maya) literary “not that”
Maya can mean illusion, fraud, deception, witchcraft, sorcery enchantment and magic.
Maya manifests, perpetuates, and governs the illusion.

In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, Maya is a veiling of the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman and she can be seen as a veil that you have to overcome.

Mahamaya (Great Maya) is connected to Devi/Shakti. Shakti is the personification, of divine feminine creative power.
Mahamaya both blinds us in delusion (moha) and can free us from it for example in “Devi Mahātmyam” Brahma asks her to release her illusory hold on Vishnu.

Lakshmi, Sarasvati are connected to her as well as Durga:

In her form as Durga she was called upon when the gods and goddesses were helpless against the attacks of Mahisasura. The combined energy of all the gods, including Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva turned Parvati into Durga.
The gods gave her ornaments, weapons, and a lion/tiger. She fought a fierce battle against the Mahisasura and his huge army and defeated him.

In Buddhism the mother of Buddha Gautama (Siddhartha) was Maya/Mayadevi/Mahamaya (illusion/enchantment)

Matrikas : (“The Mothers”), also called Matara and Matris (mātṛs, मातृ), are a group of Goddesses who are depicted together and assist Durga/Parvati etc.

Asherah:

-You not set up any wooden Asherah pole(any kind of tree) beside the altar you build to the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 16:21)

Asherah/Ashratum/Ashratu/Athirat was the consort of the Sumerian god Anu/Ugaritic God El.
Her title was “Queen of Heaven”,
She is said to have been the consort of YHVH when he took over El’s role.
Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh and a storage jar shows an inscription that refers to “Yahweh … and his Asherah”.

Mastema:

Mastema means hostility or hatred.
He is connected to disasters and plagues (plague of birds).
He was said to have been one of the fallen angels(Watchers/Grigori) who had intercourse with mortal women and sired the Nephilim (giants) other accounts say that he is one of the children of fallen angels and mortal women.
God was angry and wanted to kill all of the Nephilim, but Mastema convinced him to let one tenth of the giants live to test whether the humans are just pretending to be followers of God.
He is said to have supervised the Nephilim in the end.

He also tried to kill Moses and supported the Egyptians (however the deaths of the firstborn are also attributed to him).
He is mostly depicted as someone who tests the faith in God for example there is a story about him testing Abraham with the binding of Isaac and his role is exactly the same as Satan’s which is why he basically replaced Satan in SMT.
Mem Aleph:


Mem:

The thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called “Mem” and has the sound of “m” as in “mom.” Mem is connected to the word for “water” (mayim). It is associated with The Hanged Man and the path between Geburah and Hod on the Tree of Life.

There are two forms of the letter Mem, one used at the beginning or middle of words (open mem), and one used to end a word (closed mem). Rabbis associate it with an open womb (life) and a closed womb (no life) and often with a mother that gives life.

It’s interesting that מרים Miriam/Maryam/Mary also uses the mem letter.

The letter M is typical for the word mother:
Mutter, Mama – German
mum, mother – English
mère, maman – French
mater – Latin
Madre – Spanish
Aleph/Alef:

Ālaph Aleph, Alef, Alif is the name of the first letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet.
The shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph which looks like an ox head.

In midrash Aleph is connected to humililty and humbleness since it does not demand to start the Bible since the Bible begins with Bet(h).
Aleph however starts the Ten Commandments and it begins the three words of God’s name in Exodus, “I Am who I Am” (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh אהיה אשר אהיה)

The letter Aleph was also carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life.
It’s also part of amulets.

It’s connected to the element of air, the Tarot arcana Fool, the color yellow, breath and the Sun.
Demiurge:

-A possible depiction of demiurge

“And when she saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash.

She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance.

And she surrounded it with a luminous cloud, and she placed a throne in the middle of the cloud that no one might see it except the holy Spirit who is called the mother of the living.
And she called his name Yaltabaoth.

“This is the first archon who took a great power from his mother…. And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said: ‘I am God and there is no other God beside me,’ for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come.”-
– The Apocryphon of John

At the beginning there was a Pleroma (‘fullness’). At the centre of the Pleroma was the primal Father/The Supreme Father God or Supreme God of Truth who is unknowable by humans.
She/he created a series supernatural beings called Aeons.

One of these was Sophia (wisdom), a virgin, who gave birth to a defective, inferior Creator-God, also known as the Demiurge. (means “public craftsman/worker” ).
This God is sometimes called Yaldabaoth or Ialdabaoth Jaldabaoth (son of chaos).

He also arrogantly declares that he has made the world by himself.
He is called “the Lion-faced”, with the body of a serpent and is connected to fire.

He is basically YHVH from the Old Testament. However he is sometimes also said to be Samael or Satan and is portrayed as having shaped the earth and its life forms. He is viewed as fundamentally evil, jealous, incompetent, a megalomaniac, rigid, lacking in compassion, and prone to genocide.

Gnostics seem to have looked upon Christ as a revealer or liberator, rather than a savior or judge. His purpose was to spread knowledge and some Gnostics teachings say that he just appeared human to his disciples (basically that the Christ soul was divine but Jesus himself was ordinary).

In the true Valentinian system Jesus is the son of the fallen Sophia.
In the fully developed Ptolemaean Christ and Sophia are brother and sister.
Christ’s role in Gnosticism is not clear since some Gnostics rather see Seth or John the Baptists as role models.
Some see Jesus as the son of the “real God” and not YHVH’s other see him as a normal person who rose to divinity via gnosis.


Nocturne and Wicca

My article on Aradia, Charles Leland’s book and wiccan stuff in Nocturne.

Charles Godfrey Leland was an American author and folklorist who started researching Italian folklore in 1890s .

“Aradia” was one of the results, however the original manuscript is attributed to an Italian woman that Leland and his niece Elizabeth Robins Pennell referred to as “Maddalena”.
It is said that her real name was Margherita, and she was a “witch” from Florence who claimed a family lineage from the Etruscans and knowledge of ancient rituals.
However there are countless theories where this script actually comes from.

The Plot:

Aradia focuses on rituals and magic spells like enchantments to win love, rituals etc.
It consists of short stories and legends connected to witchcraft and religion.

The Roman Moon Goddess Diana is the primordial being and she is known as Queen of the Witches and Queen of Fairies who weaves the life of men.
She represent the moon and darkness and creates the stars and rain out of mice and even creates a male counterpart:

Apollo the sun god also known as Lucifer in this story represents the Morning Star similar to the original Phosphoros/Lucifer. He turns the wheel of fate and is Diana’s consort since he is depicted as a stag in Wicca (called Dianus which seems to derive from the god Janus) as well as being connected to mice (as Apollo Smintheus. In the Iliad, his priest prays to Apollo Smintheus,which might be translated as Apollo the Mouse (destroyer) which hints at Apollo being connected to plagues. Sminthe was also a city near Troy).

Diana fell for his looks and asked other gods and spirits how to make him love her since he ignores her advances. They replied that she must become a mortal. She did this and learned and taught many spells/magic all over the world and became the Queen of Witches.
Apollo became mortal, too and since he owned a cat that was allowed to sleep in his bed Diana got an idea:

She switched bodies with the cat and when Apollo fell asleep she lay with him (he apparently thought it was a dream) which resulted in the conception of Aradia (a wiccan saviour figure also called Queen of Witches and looking very much like Diana).
In the morning when Apollo saw what happened that night he was furious but Diana already charmed him and also put him under her spell.

The witches:

The witches in the story are portrayed as slaves that escaped, beginning new lives as “thieves and evil folk”.
Aradia herself is sent by Diana to teach them witchcraft to “destroy the evil race (of oppressors)”.

“ye shall all be freed from slavery, / And so ye shall be free in everything”

They became the first witches and then continued the worship of Diana. Aradia returned to her mother, but her magic can still be used via rituals.

Basically the central divine creatures in this story are all female characters.
Aradia Trivia:

Aradia’s name is said to derive from Herodias/Erodiade.
Herodias was the wife of Herod Antipas who along with her daughter Salome brought the downfall of John the Baptist after he critizised her marriage to Herod Antipas since Herod divorced from his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea .
Herodias was sometimes seen as a spirit condemned to wander the sky forever, permitted only to rest in treetops between midnight and dawn.
She is sometimes also called Minerva and Noctiluca.

Arada, along with Irodiada is a name used for a Romanian folkloric Queen of the Fairies connected to Diana in wicca.

Leland however said that the name Herodias in Aradia’s case derives from an earlier name of Lilith.

Aradia is also a central figure in Stregheria (derives from Strega meaning “witch”), an “ethnic Italian” form of Wicca popularized by Raven Grimassi in the 1980s. He claims that there was a historical figure called “Aradia di Toscano” who was born in Volterra and who was the leader of Diana-worshipping witches and who founded Stregheria in Italy in the 14th century.

In his book “Ecstascies – Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath” Carlo Ginzburg writes about the “Calusari”, whose members worshipped a mythical empress (mistress of the fairies) called Arada/Irodeasa in the 16th and 17th century.
Aradia’s role in Nocturne:

It actually becomes clear when you hear what the Lady in Black says about her.
Just like in the book she promises to save persecuted witches however she only gives false hope in the end especially since Yuko doesn’t look for a Reason herself but expects Aradia to find it for her.
Aradia even offers Yuko to come with her shortly before Yuko is sacrificed as the maiden but immediately saves her own skin when Yuko doesn’t want to go with her.
In my opinion Yuko believes way too much in pipe dreams and everything regarding her and Aradia is dreamlike and not reality which is why I think that the Neutral Ending in Nocturne which is basically Yuko’s ending (even though she never found her Reason) will most likely end in yet another catastrophe just like every Neutral Ending since it just delays the inevitable (at least Aleph tried to change something in every ending).

I personally think that Nocturne’s true ending is the True Demon Ending since it is the only one that makes sense regarding the Apocalypse plot since Lucifer commands his army in this ending similar to how YHVH is said to command his and since Kagutsuchi’s/Great Will’s/YHVH’s threat in Nocturne is similar to how the devil and his followers are said to perish.


“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

While Maya is my favorite Persona heroine Hiroko is my favorite SMT main series heroine and I think that her character is important.
My article and waffling about Hiroko, Mary and mother archetypes.
The next main series articles are going to be Nocturne Apocalypse and Wicca (Aradia) and Strange Journey and Gnosticism.

The names:

Hiroko (ヒロコ): Ironically her name is written like heroine (ヒロイン), heroic and heroism.
Depending on the Kanji it can mean “broad(-minded) child,” “tolerant child”, “generous child” or “spacious child”
I personally think that her name might be a pun since she is the heroine.

Mary/Maria: Μαριαμ, The name Miriam/Miryam already appeared in the Book of Exodus, in which the elder sister of Moses is called Miriam. It was a common name.

It may mean “wished-for child”, “bitter”, “rebellious” or “marine”. Might also derive from the Egyptian myr “beloved” or mr “love”.
The Aramaic version is Maryām (מרים)/Mariam (Μαριάμ).

Variants of the name include Mary, Myriam, Mirjam, Maria, Mariam, Mira and Miri,”Mimi”, Maja/Maya, Mariah etc.
The names Maya and Maia in connection to Mary are interesting as well since Buddha’s mother was named Maya (illusion) and Hermes’ mother was called Maia (she is also a typical mother since she also took care of Callisto’s child).

The name was also considered to be connected to the sea and the word mare, as in the term Stella Maris, or “star of the sea,” which is also used for the Virgin Mary.
Miraculous births:

Miraculous births are a given for characters who bring change so of course the Messiah’s birth is miraculous too, however I think that miraculous births are not always “virgin births”.

Buddha: His mother Māyā married King Śuddhodana the ruler of the Śākya clan of Kapilvastu. They did not have children for twenty years into their marriage.
She was the king’s favorite wife. The Acts of the Buddha (Buddhacarita) acknowledges Maya and Suddhodana as having sexual relations
(the two tasted of love’s delight…).
Maya is portrayed as being virtuous and pure-minded, a virgin conception is never mentioned.
One full moon night, sleeping in the palace, the queen had a vivid dream. She felt herself being carried away by four devas to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas.
After bathing the devas clothed her in heavenly clothes, anointed her with perfumes, and bedecked her with divine flowers.
A white elephant, holding a white lotus flower appeared and went round her three times, entering her womb through her right side. Maya saw this as a good sign and gave birth to Buddha/Siddhartha under a tree and died 7 days after giving birth.

Horus’s mother is Isis. Isis was married to Osiris. After Osiris is killed, Isis puts him back together again except for his penis which was tossed in a river or a lake. Isis creates a substitute penis which leads to the conception of Horus.

Krishna also wasn’t a virgin birth since him mother Devaki bore seven previous children to Vasudeva.

Mithras wasn’t born by anyone at all since he emerged from a rock.
Even in the Bible there are other miraculous births beside Jesus. Isaac and John the Baptist whose mothers were way too old to give birth to children for example.

Mary’s birth is said to be special as well since she was conceived in the normal way but is said to be free from original sin. Her parents Joachim and Anne didn’t have children for a long time either.
How was the story of the Virgin birth created:

Since Jesus was technically a demi-god the most similar stories are the Greco-Roman myths.
However: Greco-Roman myths always depict the male gods having intercourse with the women often tricking them:
See Heracles (son of Zeus and Alcmene), Dionysos (son of Zeus and Semele) and Helen (daughter of Zeus and Leda) etc..
Attis’ conception is one of the exceptions since Nana, who was a daughter of the river-god Sangarius, picked an almond and laid it in her bosom. The almond disappeared, she became pregnant and abandoned the baby.

Usually especially Zeus did not care if his victims were married/engaged since Helen’s mother Leda for example as well as Heracles’ mother were married.
The husbands were cuckolds which was pretty surely the motif for Joseph basically becoming Jesus’ foster father.
Mary however never cheated on him neither with another man nor with YHVH who is not intested in her.
Mary is the mother of the Messiah and Queen of Heaven, however it is always mentioned that she is a normal mortal so that she doesn’t become Asherah 2.0 and is regarded as a goddess or even YHVH’s wife which is the difference between her and Isis for example.
People worshipped Isis due to similar reasons and she is also a mother archetype, however since the Judeo-Christian faith is monotheism the female archetype was kinda lost.

But there’s something severly missing from the lawful world portrayed in Shin Megami Tensei.
I’m speaking about “Mary”.
Christianity, which represents the lawful ideology, could only become a world religion because of Mary worship. The protestants deny Mary worship but in catholic belief Mary, who in theology is positioned only slightly beneath Jesus, sustains Christianity.
A few years back when I visited Jerusalem I went to a graveyard church built on mount Golgotha, the most holy of places.
The statue of Mary standing there didn’t smile gently like the depictions of the holy mother usually do.
She was grieving for her crucified son, shedding tears and calling to the heavens.
-Aya Nishitani

That’s also the reason why I think that Hiroko’s existence in Megaten is so important. Mary is the last remaining mother archetype in the Abrahamic religions and represents the desire for a mother figure.

In fact Jesus’ conception always sounded like artificial insemination and similar too “Aliens abducted me and used me for an experiment” to me xD.

Aleph’s conception is simlar:

Hiroko similar to Mary is an unexperienced young woman who was just chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.
She is Aleph’s surrogate mother and had artificial memories of being a Temple Knight implanted into her. Her father Mekata, a scientist was forced to use his daughter as the test subject, leading to his rebellion against the Messiah project. Unlike the other creations Aleph was a genetically enhanced embryo implanted into and born to Hiroko and he grew rapidly.
Mekata, Hiroko and the baby Aleph fled to the slums of Valhalla in the end (reference to Baby Jesus being born in poverty?) Mekata disappeared with Aleph and the boy Hiroko was searching for the whole time was Aleph.

Mary was about 12-16 years old when Jesus was born and was chosen because she was a pure person and since it fulfilled a bunch of prophecies (YHVH’s logic for using a child as the mother of his son is beyond me but it’s similar to the experiments Hiroko was forced to participate in).
Many people think that Jesus was actually a child Mary always wanted which is wrong:
The Gospel of James depicts her as crying since no one believes her. Joseph compares himself to Adam who just looked away for a moment and the woman (Eve/Mary) does something stupid and he wants to abandon her just like in the Gospel of Matthew since he fears that he might be accused of having touched Mary before their marriage.
However he also doesn’t want to do her wrong if she is telling the truth and fears that the child might be an angel and would die innocently and since Mary could end up being stoned.
He is convinced by Gabriel in the Gospel of Matthew and Gospel of James to stay with Mary and accept the Messiah.

Ironically Eve and Mary are very often compared to each other since Mary is called the second Eve and Jesus is called the second Adam which makes the choice of a Jesus and a Mary expy after the Adam and Eve expies in SMT fitting.

What is Mary’s bond with Jesus like?

It’s actually said to be a normal mother and child relationship even though Jesus never calls her mother except during his death in the Gospel of John .
He calls her woman in the scene in which he turns water into wine and she says that people should do what he says.
He doesn’t seem to think that being related automatically turns you into a family though.
Some of his half-siblings/step-siblings followed him, others not.
In the Gospel of John he gives her the Apostle John as a replacement son during his crucifixion scene though.
Aleph calling Hiroko mother would be just as strange since he is not a normal man either and she is his surrogate mother since his conception was not normal.

The Golden Goddess in the ending of SMTII looks like a mixture of Mary statues and a Greek goddess to me.
I think that she is just something similar to the Goddess of Tokyo in SMTIV.
Maybe also a symbol like the female goddesses in Strange Journey (the Mother archetypes) who lost power when YHVH overtook the patriarchal role of El.

What is Hiroko’s punishment?

I always wondered what he did have in store for Hiroko since she follows Aleph in all routes.
My suggestion:
She probably survives Aleph by far since she is a mother archetype after all so letting Aleph die before her would probably be the biggest punishment.
Black Maria:

Strange Journey and SMTIV using Black Maria during the Lady Danu mission is kinda continuing the “Mary is a mother archetype” symbolism.

Kaneko designed Black Maria after Jean Delvilles “The Idol of Perversity”.

A big inspiration for Black Maria was Artemis/Diana of Ephesus since Ephesus is connected to Mary:
John of Patmos who according to tradition is the fourth Evangelist as well as the Apostle John lived at Ephesus. Artemis was later replaced with Mary (it does kinda fit since Artemis is also connected to virginity and the moon. Mary is kinda the moon to Jesus’ sun and also depicted as standing on moons quite often since she is also called Queen of Heaven and is connected to the woman with the stars in the Apocalypse.)

There is a legend that says that Mary accompanied John and spent her last days at a house near Ephesus called Meryemana. Another legend says she died in Jerusalem though.
In the year 431 there was a council of Ephesus which declared Mary as „theotokos“ (mother of god).

Cybele (worshipped on Ephesus before Artemis and from what I have read a mother archetype) and Artemis/Diana are possible influences as well as Earth goddesses like Demeter/Ceres.
Astarte/Ishtar/Inanna and Isis are also said to be influences.
Sometimes the goddess Kali (whose name derives from kala which means black, time, death) is said to be an influence as well.

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