Welcome to Goddess Awareness Week 2017: Ancient Goddesses! (Hopefully next year to become a 28-day gala. )
This event was created by erin Dragonsong (Wicca-Spirituality.com) to celebrate and aid the return of the Divine Feminine to the Earth.
It would be wonderful to have this become an international festival someday, wouldn't it? Imagine women, men, and children all over the world honouring the return of the Goddess all together, for a whole month!
For now, though, we must content ourselves with this more humble tribute on this website and related social media.
(That's not quite as tiny as it may sound, since Wicca-Spirituality.com reaches almost a million readers a year all around the Earth.
And if we share this tribute with others, we can enhance the love and respect of the Divine Mother even more.)
The informational graphics will also be added to this page during the week.
Meeting them one by one like this, you can take some time to get to know and honour each one. Some ways you might do this include...
Meditating on her
Creating an altar for her
Doing a ritual to honour and empower her
Invite her to make herself known to you
Do a collage, painting, sculpture, song, or other creative work for her
Have a conversation in your journal with her
Do more research on her
Sharing information about her with others
(Your ideas here)
It seems fitting for our first Goddess Awareness Week to focus on a few of the earliest ancient Goddesses found on Earth: our starting point in the procession of female Deities.
Thinking in terms of thousands of years is challenging enough, but trying to imagine TENS or HUNDREDS of thousands of years ago is truly daunting.
I invite you to take a moment, though, to really try to picture how many generations have been worshipping the feminine as a Divinity!
(And consider how short a time, in comparison, the Goddess was excluded from human spirituality, before She was reborn.)
About These Deities
Originally labelled "Venuses" due to the discoverers' cultural blindness to feminine forms of Divinity, these are patently Mother Goddesses from prehistory.
You'll see certain symbolisms frequently recurring in these ancient icons, such as red ochre and an "unfinished" face.
Red ochre was, and still is, used to represent the Holy Blood of the Divine Mother the magickal, mysterious menstrual fluid that was the gift of the Moon and the source of life for humans. Many ancient female deities were found with traces of red ochre on them, which is evidence of their role as Great Mother Goddesses.
The "hidden face" is also common: ancient icons often lack facial features. This indicates that the carving is not of a specific person but of a Divine being. Details of Divinity can't be clearly seen, and the anonymity of the figurines reflect this spiritual wisdom.
An interesting fact is that more than over 90% of the discovered human figures from between 30,000 to 5,000 BCE (Before Common Era) are female. So despite the tendency to downplay these statuettes as mere fertility-cult figures or primitive pornographic sex-idols, it seems obvious that women were held in very high esteem particularly in their child-bearing attributes.
This isn't surprising... the idea that women may be a mere vessel for men's generative seed has existed for less than an eyeblink in human history.
And if women were revered for the truly awe-some and miraculous power to create life, it's inevitable that the power itself would be personified and revered... as the Mother Goddess.
Now, allow me to introduce to you a few of the iconic ancient representations of these Goddesses. (Click on an image to go to that ancient Goddess.)
The Final Goddess
for Goddess Awareness Week:
Love the Goddess;
Love your Body!
The Willendorf Goddess
The lush Willendorf Goddess shows that humans revered the Goddess as long as 30,000 years (the stone age). For many years, she was the oldest sacred art piece we had found.
When discovered, she was covered with red ochre, which commonly symbolizes the miraculous power of menstruation and birth.
As with most Goddesses of prehistory, she was erroneously called a "Venus" because at the time of her discovery, men couldn't imagine a female figure - particularly a naked one - as anything other than a fertility symbol, at best.
Her face is hidden, suggesting her divine status, for who can know the face of the Goddess? Her ripe, well-fed body promises abundance and the continuance of life.
Her vulva is sculpted clearly, the sacred Vesica Piscis one of the most common Goddess symbols, signifying the Gates of Heaven, the source of all creation.
Generally called the Venus of Laussel or Femme à la Corne (Woman of the Horn), this prehistoric Mother Goddess was carved in stone-age France between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.
Her face is a mystery, and she was painted with red ochre both common symbols in Goddess icons.
Her belly is rounded in pregnancy, taking advantage of the natural form of the rock it seems, and expressing her role as Divine Mother. Her left hand rests on her belly a position familiar to all expectant mothers. Her lush thighs and heavy breasts indicate one who has given birth and suckled children many times.
As with many Mother Goddess, her role as Creatrix/Generatrix is emphasized in her proportions: enhancing the child-bearing attributes, while the rest is smaller in comparison.
She holds aloft a bovine horn: ancient symbol of the Moon and the Mystery of Menstruation the source of life. It's carved with 13 marks, making it a lunar calendar. Her face turns towards this moon/horn, signifying its importance.
This lunar-horn symbol is also a cornucopia, symbol of the abundance of the Earth and Goddess. Archeologists argue about whether it's the one or the other, but it's both simultaneously. They hold the identical meaning: abundance and fecundity through the Divine Mother.
This Bird-Headed Snake Goddess comes to us from predynastic Egypt (Africa), ~ 4000 BCE. She beautifully combines two powerful totems: the Bird and the Serpent both ancient symbols of birth, death (the soul's life), and rebirth.
She represents unity: fusing together the realms of Air and Earth, spiritual and tangible... and mortality with eternity. In fact, the Bird-Headed Snake Goddess is in herself a form of World Tree, a bridge connecting and mediating between the planes of existence.
She is therefore a Creatrix, a Mother Goddess, a Great Goddess Generatrix the ancestress of Isis and Eurynome, among others. Her body has given birth and suckled young. She offers us fruitfulness. And so much more.
In a posture intimating dance, her arms raise high with a sense of triumph and celebration of life. She personifies feminine power not of violence or domination, but the power to create, nourish, and sustain life... as well as to ease our transition into the Other World at the end of life.
The Bird-Headed Snake Goddess dances the universe into being... she IS the universe everything is contained within her; nothing is outside of her.
She illuminates a way of being, simultaneously, both the Universal self and the personal self... and the joy and power that comes from dancing through that point of balance.
The Venus of Lespugue, or Lespugue Goddess, is another prehistoric statuette honouring the Mother Goddess. She was created 22 - 28,ooo years ago in France. Carved of mammoth tusk ivory, about 15 cm (6 inches) tall,
Due to unfortunate damage during excavation, it's not possible to see whether the Lespugue Goddess was created with a sacred vulva, but it's very possible, considering this is a standard feature of these Mother Goddesses. At any rate, the sacred triangle of the pubic region another nearly-universal Goddess symbol is clearly delineated.
She gazes down on her children with a patient warmth; there is the sense that she is always available, always present, always loving.
The most striking thing about this ancient Goddess is the extreme exaggeration of the physical form of the Sacred Feminine.
Her breasts are prodigious, abounding with life-giving milk so that even her pregnant belly is small in comparison.
The breasts and buttocks are huge, much larger than any other Goddess figurine recovered to date.
Also unique is the graceful depiction of full arms, where most prehistoric Goddess figurines only suggest the arms. Even so, they are minimalized to almost-trivial indications.
The Venus of Lespugue is a bit of a confusing contradiction to historians. Her form is simple, made of repeating globes, and it appears crudely distorted and "unrealistic." Yet at the same time, she displays a high level of artistic in the carving, an appealing smooth finish, and an overall aesthetic quality that pleases the eye. On the one hand, the artist is thought to be primitively ignorant of reality, yet on the other hand, she shows great skill and refined aesthetics.
As with so much of our modern perspectives, our prejudices confuse things, pulling blinders across so that we can't see what's right in front of us.
In the same way, historians continue to argue about the purpose and meaning of these female statuettes. From a purely intellectual viewpoint, no definitive understanding can be reached.
When we look with eyes unblinded by patriarchy and with hearts open to eternal wisdom, however, the meaning is indisputable.
The Lespugue Goddess is a representation of the Giver of Life, the ample, fecund Mother Goddess, the Creatrix, and Source if not of all the universe, then at least of all humanity.
Several figurines of ancient Goddesses holding snakes were found in Knossos, Crete. Pictured here is the most famous of these Minoan Snake Goddesses, c. 1600 BCE.
She holds aloft two sacred Serpents in a dramatic pose, with another rising upright above her head.
The snakes represent this Goddess's role as a bridge between the worlds, her access to infinite spiritual wisdom, and her ultimate power of transformation to magickally create and re-create both herself and others.
She seems to be not so much displaying this power, but inviting us to partake of it with her. The Minoan Snake Goddess is showing us the way.
The greatest attraction of this image, perhaps, is the culture that created it. Little is known for certain of the Minoans, but what we do know is inspiring... at this time of history, especially so!
Women played a major role in Minoan society; there is, in fact, strong evidence that it was highly matriarchal. Women were the spiritual leaders, for instance there were no Minoan priests. The standards of beauty for men and women is another sign
There is no evidence of a ruler per se, certainly none of the arrogant violent kings that are depicted by other cultures in the art of the times. By contrast, the Goddess and the charm of nature were the common themes in Minoan art.
Minoans seemed to epitomize Goddess-worshipping culture: refinement, sensitivity, harmony, intelligence, and sensuality combined with innocence.
While they are largely a mystery to us, what we know of the Minoans indicates a deep love of nature and beauty, a sophisticated culture, and a peaceful lifestyle. They didn't glorify fighting or war, and unfortified castles shared the island seemingly without strife between them. They had a large and powerful navy which they used to rid their home sea of pirates and to trade with distant societies. They were prosperous with a high standard of living and much leisure time.
Also striking is the lack of centralised worship. There were no large temples; rather, spirituality was woven throughout their buildings and, it seems, their lives, in the form of numerous altars.
The Minoan culture demonstrates that the idea of a matriarchy or women in positions of power as "the same as patriarchy except with women on top" is inaccurate.
A culture based on Goddess awareness and Goddess values is more likely to be as the Minoans were peaceful, incredibly creative, rich with beauty and sensitivity.
Minoans are sometimes mistakenly thought of as early Greeks, but they were not. However, the Minoan culture was instrumental in shaping early Greek civilization, and had a lasting impact on all the societies around them.
Can you imagine what humans were doing 1/4 million to 3/4 million years ago? As far back as that, predating even the Neanderthals, our Homo erectus ancestors were carving representations of the Mother Goddess!
Discovered in Austria, this stone carving is far older than the Venus of Willendorf, which was for decades the earliest carved idol known. Yet hundreds of thousands of years earlier, humans had carved a quite similar figurine, proving that human reverence for the Mother Goddess could be around 800 thousand years old!
This is hundreds of millennia longer than we had thought. And it shows that our ancestors were artistic, spiritual beings before we were even Homo sapiens.
The Acheulian Goddess has been called "the earliest manifestation of a work of art."
What I find truly remarkable about the Acheulian Goddess is that the same basic style she's carved in was used for hundreds of thousands of years afterward, even in far distant areas.
200,000 years, the time between the Acheulian Goddess and the Venus of Willendorf, say it's too big a number to imagine. Homo Sapiens have been on the Earth for less time!
In fact, the first art carved in human form the only art carved in human form for hundreds of millennia are of women, and all of the same basic design. That in itself points to the supreme importance the female body has held for our ancestors. It indicates that it's not the body itself, but the meaning behind the body the spiritual significance that they were expressing in these ancient Goddess figurines.
Using tools made of flint, in what must surely have been an arduous process, our ancestors adapted a natural stone to bring out the Sacred Feminine they saw within it, including breasts, a navel, a curve of belly, and of course her sacred Yoni (vulva).
More details than that were unnecessary: the Goddess is powerfully evoked in a few simple lines.
Being a virtually natural stone, the Acheulian Goddess holds an energy that's somewhat different from, say, the Venus of Willendorf. More unalloyed, pure Earth energy.
The fact that she fits in the palm of the hand is fortuitous for an icon of this sort. Have you ever found a rock that fits just perfectly in your hand, curves sliding into hollows? There's a feeling of rightness and satisfaction in holding a stone just the right shape. How much more so, when it's also charged with the energy of the Goddess!
The Goddess of Hohle Fels was created around 40,000 years ago, shortly after early modern humans (Cro-Magnon) migrated into Europe and began displacing the Neanderthals, though it's not certain who is the artist. (Personally, I think the body-type suggests the Neanderthals.)
The main characteristics of this tiny (2.5") prehistoric Goddess figurine, as with all ancient Mother Goddesses, are the reproductive attributes: the massive breasts, the pregnant belly lovingly held. Something that sets her apart from others is her even more pronounced than usual, greatly magnified Yoni (sacred vulva) which is carved in elaborate detail.
Another distinctive feature is that this Goddess idol was given a loop in place a head, which appears to have been used to her loop onto a thong to wear, possibly, as a pendant.
Looking back over dozens and even hundreds of millennia, it's easy to lose sight of how distant these ancient Goddess icons were from each other... across the globe, and with time frames as long as Homo Sapiens' existence on the planet. The globe doesn't seem so big to us today, but it wasn't all that long ago that a journey of a few hundred miles was sensational.
And in all that distance in time and space, it's astonishing that the style of the Mother Goddess has not changed much. The prodigious breasts, large pregnant belly (often with arms resting or touching it, as any pregnant mother does), the exaggerated Yoni, the minimalized arms and legs are common to Goddess statuettes as far displaced in time and space as Germany to Africa, and modern times to 20,000 years ago!
She would've been unimaginably ancient when the Neanderthals vanished!
You'd think we'd have a deep respect for her, wouldn't you?
Yet these ancient Goddesses are still being touted as either primitively depicted portraits of real people, fertility cult symbols, or most sadly revealing of our current mindset early pornography. Discovered in the year 2008 (when we should be able to expect better), the Goddess of Hohle Fels was dismissively hailed a "Prehistoric Pin-up," albeit one with profound revelations for archeology.
Carved by flint tools, she represents an immense investment of time, energy, and probably flints. This suggests that she was highly important & meaningful. And the lack of a human head should put to final rest the delusion that these figures are merely portraits of actual women.
To look at these ancient statuettes, it's obvious that they are depicting something significant, something more than the merely mundane.
Altogether it's clear that the Goddess of Hohle Fels is meant to represent a force of Nature, a feminine deity.