This week we’re travelling forward in prehistory to take a glimpse at the very first symbols of the goddess. Let’s move beyond the Palaeolithic era, into Neolithic Europe. Here we pick up the earliest threads of many goddess stories.
I’m going to take you on a journey through birth, death and regeneration. I’ll introduce you to the Great Goddess ‘in disguise’. She hides in many complex and fascinating guises. Some of her forms 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 more extensive.
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 extra context makes it far easier to decipher the symbolism from this era.
Neolithic art depicts the great goddess 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.”
We’re going to focus on the three main interpretations of the goddess in Neolithic art: life, death and regeneration.