The archetype of the Great Goddess calls to mind a truth from the field of embryology: The female form is the primary biological form, the template of all vertebrate embryos. That is, every male body develops from a modification of the primary biological form, which is female. If this conversion from female to male is blocked for any reasons, the fetus does not change from its basic form, and is born as a female, by default. Sterile, to be sure, but morphologically female.
In the case of human beings, between the fifth and seventh week after conception, embryos of either sex develop generic gonads that later become either ovaries or testicles. If these generic sex cells are removed from a female embryo, the baby will still be born a female; completely female in outward appearance, but sterile because of the lack of uterus and ovaries.
What is more fascinating, if you remove the generic sex cells of a normal male fetus, the baby also will be born as a sterile female, vagina included. Therefore, the female form is recognized as biologically innate. This fact applies not only to all mammals, but as well to all fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds: All vertebrate embryos are intrinsically female.
To further illustrate this female-to-male conversion process in the case of human embryos, let us examine what happens naturally (if you do not tamper with the generic sex cells). In the case of a male embryo, the generic gonads begin turning into testes around the eighth week; otherwise, they begin turning into ovaries around the thirteenth week. Nothing is needed for them to change into ovaries—they do that by default. However, something has to intervene—genes on the Y-chromosome—to make the gonads change into testes.
Many things can go askew in the transformation process. Such accidents lead to genetic males, called pseudohermaphrodites, who show a mix of incomplete male and incomplete female structures.
In fact, there is one type of genetic male who perfectly resembles a woman. No chest hair or masculine build, no deep voice, and of course, no penis. They are missing a cell receptor for testosterone, so although they have internal testicles making normal serum levels of male hormone, they never grow any of the male equipment that depends on that hormone for development. The “girl” does not suspect any abnormality until she reaches puberty and worries, “How come I’m not menstruating?” A trip to the doctor leads to the discovery that she has no female internal organs, just a vagina that dead-ends, and testicles hidden in the abdomen, where the ovaries belong.
As it happens, these blocked-androgen-receptor males tend to be strikingly beautiful “women.” They have got the long-legged height of males, large breasts and flawless skin (testosterone is a major cause of oily skin and acne). According to my research in a number of medical journals, more than a few pseudohermaphrodites have turned up among female fashion models!
Androgen-blocked males nearly always choose to continue their lives as women. They often get married to men and raise adopted kids, as the mom. Without the receptor for testosterone they are women, by default.
Devotees of Devi will be tempted to interpret this fact of nature—that the female form is the fundamental embryonic form—as scientific evidence of the primacy of the Goddess. A psychological analysis might ask, does this biological principle (in some deeply subconscious way) give rise to the Goddess archetype? In either case, every male vertebrate on this planet has been developed from the female template, not the other way around!