Hubby passed along this nifty article (again the atheists come through with the research!) and I want to share excerpts with the Loyal Horde:
But contemporary Jesus worshippers might be surprised, even outraged, to learn that one of their preeminent religious symbols antedated the Christian religion, and has its roots in Pagan fertility awareness and sexuality. Barbara G. Walker writes in "The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects," that the acronym pertaining to Jesus Christ was a "rationale invented after the fact... Christians simply copied this pagan symbol along with many others." Ichthys was the offspring son of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia or Delphine. The word also meant "womb" and "dolphin" in some tongues, and representations of this appeared in the depiction of mermaids. The fish also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus (who has a fish amulet covering her genital region), as well as the tale of the fish that swallowed the penis of Osiris, and was also considered a symbol of the vulva of Isis.
Well before Christianity, the fish symbol was known as "the Great Mother," a pointed oval sign, the "vesica piscis" or Vessel of the Fish. "Fish" and "womb" were synonymous terms in ancient Greek,"delphos." Its link to fertility, birth, feminine sexuality and the natural force of women was acknowledged also by the Celts, as well as pagan cultures throughout northern Europe. Eleanor Gaddon traces a "Cult of the Fish Mother" as far back as the hunting and fishing people of the Danube River Basin in the sixth millennium B.C.E. Over fifty shrines have been found throughout the region which depict a fishlike deity, a female creature who "incorporates aspects of an egg, a fish and a woman which could have been a primeval creator or a mythical ancestress..." The "Great Goddess" was portrayed elsewhere with pendulous breasts, accentuated buttocks and a conspicuous vaginal orifice, the upright "vesica piscis" which Christians later adopted and rotated 90-degrees to serve as their symbol.
Go check out the article! Quiz tomorrow!(j/k, no quiz!)