Great article! an under-considered subject. The Church often refers to Mary Mother as “Queen of Heaven and Earth” which was also the title of Inanna of Sumeria, Ishtar of Babylon and Isis of Egypt. I think at issue is not simply mariolatry/marian piety but that for 25,000 years human beings have worshipped the divine in female form. All the site of churches to “Our Lady” across Europe were formerly temples to the Goddesses Diana or Demeter or Sophia etc. You aptly note that Jesus was so at ease with women, and that he was surrounded by independent women. Could it be these women were priestesses? Considering the strict rules governing contact between men and women in Hebrew society — is it reasonable to consider that some 1st century women, just like nuns today, benefitted from a separate social status? Could Mary have been one of these women?
C.S. Lewis remarked that those who advocate Mary Veneration rely less on scriptural warrant to support their claim, and more on darkly implying that those who oppose their “doctrine” are cads: i.e. mary-worshippers sinking their claws into motherhood to improve their acceptability and survivability.
The God-head possesses feminine attributes whose recognition has been delayed by this unscripturally unfounded veneration of Mary, both by Catholics who invest all those attributes in Mary, and by Protestants going overboard in trying to correct that abuse of the truth. It is plainly recorded in Genesis that BOTH male and female incorporate God’s image. The Trinitarian God is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father and Son are both explicit terms that incorporate the male gender, so by process of elimination, it is within the Holy Spirit that the feminine aspect of God resides. Mariolatry expels this feminine aspect from God and invests it in a human being. Really, the distance between the shameful treatment today of the Holy Spirit in the churches and the treatment of women in the workplace prior to (quite justified) feminist reforms, is not spacious.
I mean no disrespect to the Father nor the Son, but if both of them have what passes as their hind-ends planted firmly in two thrones away up in Heaven while the Holy Spirit is down here on earth, embedded in each Christian, trying to educate us unto all truth while enduring the sufferings, outrages, and persecutions being inflicted on them by Islamists, scientismists, and leftists, then simple gratitude demands that we toss some respect and admiration the Holy Spirit’s way. (shades of “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best”!)