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any of a variety of feminine deities and maternal symbols of creativity, birth, fertility, sexual union, nurturing, and the cycle of growth. The term also has been applied to figures as diverse as the so-called Stone Age Venuses and the Virgin Mary. Because motherhood is one of the universal human realities, there is no culture that has not employed some maternal symbolism in depicting its deities. Because of the wide variations concerning maternal figures, there is a pressing, but as yet unmet, need for a more complex and useful typology of mother goddesses and maternal motifs based on meaning, symbolism, and function