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The Goddess. Paleolithic Goddesses The "venuses" of Dolni Vestonice, Willendorff, Lespugue (2), and Laussel date from 20000-18000 B.C.

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Presentation on theme: "The Goddess. Paleolithic Goddesses The "venuses" of Dolni Vestonice, Willendorff, Lespugue (2), and Laussel date from 20000-18000 B.C."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Goddess

2 Paleolithic Goddesses The "venuses" of Dolni Vestonice, Willendorff, Lespugue (2), and Laussel date from 20000-18000 B.C.

3 “VENUS” or FEMALE FIGURINES ?  The distinctive features consist of breasts, buttocks, bellies and vulvas, emphasized and greatly exaggerated  The extremities: head, arms, hands, legs and feet, are very much diminished or missing  Because these figures are often faceless, and sometimes headless, the images are probably signs of WOMAN rather than images of women.

4 Woman, Doll or Goddess?  Earth mother or mother goddess?  Fertility symbol or charm?  Some figurines daubed with red ochre in vulva area -- connection with menstrual cycle?  Tradition of making figurines lasted 17,000 years Venus of Kostienski Russia Venus of Respugue France

5 Left hand rests on pregnant belly Venus of Laussel 20,000-18,000 bce Right hand holds a horn marked with 13 lines: 13 lunar months in a year.

6 § MATRIARCHY: pre-eminence of the mother - - Mütterrecht -- “Mother-right” ‡ PATRIARCHY: pre-eminence of the father as the head and authority in the family § MATRILINEAL: descent and inheritance through the mother’s line ‡ PATRILINEAL: descent and inheritance through the father’s line § MATRISTIC: honoring and sacralizing the feminine aspect of motherhood and nurturing ‡ PATRISTIC: honoring and sacralizing the masculine aspect of fatherhood and authority

7 GYLANY A culture which values equally the masculine and feminine natures (term used by Riane Eisler and others to describe the social relationships in Old European culture and other Neolithic cultures that might serve as a model for evolving human relationships)

8 GAIA HYPOTHESIS Earth is not so much a planet adorned with diverse life forms, but a planet which has been transfigured and transformed by a self-evolving and self-regulating living system. In view of the nature of this activity, Earth seems to qualify as a living organism its own right. Life has modified and been modified by the biosphere, a process called coevolution. The organisms that survive and thrive on the planet are those that help maintain the biosphere in a way that is favorable for life. All living things are interrelated and dependent on each other. First proposed by James Lovelock in the 1970s Named for the Greek Goddess of the Earth

9 The Scholarly Trail § 1851: Lewis H. Morgan, The League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee, or IroquoisLewis H. Morgan § 1861: J. J. Bachofen, Das MutterrechtJ. J. Bachofen § 1927: Robert Briffault, The Mothers: A Study of the Origins of Sentiment and InstitutionsRobert Briffault § 1948: Robert Graves, The White GoddessRobert Graves § 1970s : James Lovelock, The Gaia HypothesisJames Lovelock § 1974: Marija Gimbutas, The Goddesses and Gods of Old EuropeMarija Gimbutas § 1976: Merlin Stone, When God Was a WomanMerlin Stone § 1988: Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the BladeRiane Eisler

10 The Prehistoric Great Goddess

11 Some Aspects of the Goddess § Fertility-giver: pregnant nude § Birth-giver: naturalistic birth-giving pose § Life-giver/Protectress: bird-woman with breasts and protuding buttocks § Nurturer/Mother: mother and child § Death-wielder: stiff nude, “bone” § Symbols: vulvas, triangles, breasts, chevrons, zig-zags, meanders, cupmarks, spirals

12 Fertility-giver pregnant nude Cyclades: Greece Tell Azmak, Bulgaria Jomon, Japan

13 Fish Goddess: epiphany of engendering goddess

14 Birth-giver naturalistic birth-giving pose Malta Çatalhöyük

15 Birth-giver Tlazoteotl, c. 1500, Aztec goddess of childbirth

16 Life-giver: bird-woman with breasts and protuding buttocks Vinca, Yugoslavia

17 Nurturer/Mother: mother and child Southeast Asian peninsula Vinca, Yugoslavia Often in animal form or with animal masks: bird, bear, lizard, etc.

18 Southeast Asian peninsula

19 Owl Goddess: owl is the prophetic bird, death messenger, epiphany of goddess as death wielder France

20 Death-wielder: stiff nude, “bone” Sparta Sardinia Krasno, Bulgaria Jomon, Japan

21 Snake Goddess of Life/Death and Wisdom: snake symbolizes sacred energy, primordial and mysterious Southeast Asia Crete

22 Minoan Snake Goddesses

23 Coatlicue, Aztec goddess of the earth, embodies belief in the creative principal

24 Enthroned Goddess Bulgarian goddess : masked and pregnant, decorated with lozenges, lines and swirls

25 Enthroned Çatalhöyük Goddess

26 Hierosgamos: Sacred Marriage The Goddess and the King c. 10,000 BC Europe, Negev Desert

27 Hierosgamos: sacred marriage between the goddess and the king b The goddess represents the sovereignty of the land. b Marriage of the king and the goddess ensures the fertility of the land. b Kings held power only by virtue of their association with a continuing female line, which is thus immortal both by childbirth and by genealogy, while the male remains transient and mortal likewise on both counts. b Traditions of transient sacred kingships interrupted by human sacrifice are an expression of this motif. b Immortal earth goddess -- Dying and resurrected vegetation god-king

28 Sumer: Inanna the first written story of the goddess

29 The descent into the Underworld

30 The death of Dumuzzi

31 Sacrifice of the King The new King dispatches the old in the presence of the Goddess Sumer 2300 BC

32 The Goddess “… a potential being who exists in all of us and who, since the beginning of human history, has emerged in varying degrees into consciousness in the many and diverse forms cultural forms to which we apply the word goddess in the sense of female deity… a being who is Goddess as opposed to God, a force who long preceded her male counterpart as an appropriate metaphor for the Great Mystery of Existence….

33 The Goddess …who contains and celebrates light and dark, life and death, male and female, and whose source is the inner depths rather than the airy heights.” David Leeming and Jake Page, “Introduction,” Goddess


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