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We’re travelling forward in prehistory this week to take a glimpse at the very first symbols of the goddess. Moving beyond the Palaeolithic era, into Neolithic Europe, we can pick up the earliest threads of many goddess stories.
In this post, I’m going to take you on a journey through birth, death and regeneration. I’ll introduce you to the Great Goddess ‘in disguise’, symbolised in many complex and fascinating ways. Some of her guises are sure to surprise you. Let’s dive in!
The New Stone Age
The Neolithic, 10,000 – 3,000 BC, was the birth of agriculture when settlements became larger and villages appeared for the first time.
We’re lucky to have a wealth of artefacts from this period, more than 100,000 figurines (compared with only 3,000 from the Upper Palaeolithic which came earlier). We also have the remains of tombs, cemeteries and settlements to explore. This gives us more context, so it’s far easier to decipher the symbolism from this era.
Throughout the Neolithic, we find the Great Goddess depicted in many complex ways. I’ll attempt to unravel the symbolism here today (with the help of Marija Gimbutas, quoted below).
“The sophisticated, complex art surrounding the Neolithic goddess is a shifting kaleidoscope of meaning: she personified every phase of life, death, and regeneration. She was the Creator from whom all life, human, plant, and animal – arose, and to whom everything returned.”
In this post, we’re going to focus on the 3 main interpretations of the goddess in Neolithic art: life, death and regeneration.