The Catholic Church is accused by some of having continued pagan goddess and demi-goddess worship (Isis, Astarte, Semiramis, et al), what some call worship of the “Queen of Heaven”, in its veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They protest that such devotion is called for nowhere in Scripture.
To what extent, if any, does this contain a kernel of truth? Stay with me on this. It seems to me that many, if not most, pre-Christian pagan religions had a kind of “mother goddess” (possibly one of many gods), and that, indeed, worshiping a “divine feminine” figure may well be an atavistic part of human nature. Did the Church go into pagan lands, seeking to convert as many as she could, find them worshiping a mother goddess, and emphasize devotion to the Blessed Mother (not worship) as a substitute, something consonant with Christian doctrine that the pagans could accept?
I, myself, sense no primordial, atavistic urge within me to call upon a female religious entity. I do it — Fatima played a huge role in this — but it’s not something that would naturally occur to me, if I weren’t told of it. I was not formally raised with any religion other than a kind of “atmospheric” Christianity from my extended family and community — my family had no concept of anyone not believing in Christianity, even if they did not regularly attend church or read the Bible. They couldn’t even have told you what a Jew or a Muslim is. Eastern Orthodoxy, never heard of it. Catholicism? Bingo games, ministers who don’t get married, people who tend to drink, people who think their sins are forgiven in confession and then they can run right out and commit them again. All I knew was “God and Jesus”, really not understanding either. Thankfully I discovered Christ and his one true Catholic Church, but I just as easily could not have, if not for grace.
On the other hand, my “ex-” wife, Polish born and raised, told me that she most certainly does feel an instinctive urge, when confronted with trouble or danger, to run to the Blessed Mother. She was raised that way and never knew Christianity without an emphasis on Our Lady. This seems to be the template for most if not all Catholics. I’m not saying it is a bad thing, I just never heard of it.
And I realize that other practices are said to be “layovers” of Christianity onto existing pagan practices — Christmas, Easter, and so on. Catholic missionaries found pagans with nature-based ceremonies and holidays, and “tweaked” them to become Christian. (Nowhere in Scripture are we told to observe Christmas or Easter.) There are other examples.