Marija Gimbutas became intrigued growing up in Lithuania with stories her elders told, of the songs, the legends, the myths, and they led her on a journey that would bring her to a truth that had been hidden, forgotten in the fog of centuries since history began to be written.
The voice of history had until then been a male one, from a male perspective, and she was the first to see something new, first to even believe we should be questioning, what gender was the early European gods?
“In her work, Marija Gimbutas reinterpreted European prehistory in light of her backgrounds in linguistics, ethnology, and the history of religions and challenged many traditional assumptions about the beginnings of European civilization. She enthusiastically encouraged linguists, archaeologists and other scholars to investigate the transition between the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Europe.”Marijagimbutas.com
Back 10,000 years, and farther into the mists, women have been the gatherers, the ones who made the fire, kept by it, a giver of comfort, a lullaby to calm, a voice in the cold dark night to take away the chill, the uncertainty of tomorrow. She who knew what was good to eat, when, why, how, where to find it, she was the first to sow the seeds that would give birth to a new dominion over the earth with agriculture, because it was her steps she could trace back in time to see that with the gathering and later grinding, left in that wake things sprouted. This ‘birth’ she knew well, understood and saw it’s potential, as she did her own children.
In this egalitarian pre-history, the voice of power, of faith, of the land, that voice was a feminine one, of feminine breasts, and curves of truths, found throughout ‘old Europe’, and these goddess figurines told a truth that had been in the past only viewed through male eyes, as women’s perspectives were largely drowned out.
“She traced survivals of goddesses, birds, snakes, and many other images and symbols from Old Europe through historical times to the present. She began to see these images and symbols as a shorthand, a “language” of our early ancestors, that we might decipher with time and care. Through her “reading” of this language, she proposed to modern scholarship an articulate and radical view of Neolithic religion.
Marija Gimbutas saw that the female form, rendered in thousands of images, reflected the centrality of women in religious and cultural life. Images of the Goddess, and male Gods, both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic, expressed a sacred participation in the great natural cycles of fertility, birth, death and regeneration.”
Therefore, to my mind, it makes sense that the teller of the tales would also be feminine one, telling her truths to those gathered around the fire she had made, stories to relate wisdom, experience, of love and loss, power and weakness, relay the values, the rules to live by, and all the things, large and small, of being, breathing, thinking, seeing, hearing, tasting, life as well as death. The tales of the unknowable, of the thing inside us, perhaps, the spark of the divine that we all carry with us.
And I ask you, why is it that woman’s voices have been so maligned once men took up spears to make wars and take ownership of something one can not truly own? What has been hidden? So distrusted? These voices ignored even, and in the face of years of research, expertise in the field?
Gimbutas work is revered by many today, and a window into a time in our pre-history that is, well, stains on the ground, shards of grotty pottery, if you’re lucky, maybe a few tool marks on a bone, pictures on a cave wall whose meanings have disappeared. The age of stone in its final act, in the far west of Europe, in a landscape of ritual and burial with some special meaning to them, they placed the last and greatest henge to stand on the Salisbury Plain, carved in stone. A monument left for us to puzzle over, of a culture that was lost in the fogs of warriors of myth in the bronze age, and by the age of iron, it was all but forgotten who put them there, who these people were and what they believed.
Still, today, that voice seems strange, yet familiar and right, and still not equal, at par in leadership roles, still the expected tone is a baritone one.
And why are they so scared of us? One would think, after all this time? Right? But what do I know?
Yet, I know women of strength. Real ones. Everyday ones. I grew up with them, was raised by them, hugged by them, taught things by them. Understood by them before I understood myself, knowingly, I’ve seen these women look at me, in that “ah, darling, life hasn’t even started to fuck with you yet” kind of way, and I say that sort of stuff to the youngins who happen into my orbit, the lost ones, the wounded birds, the broken wings, the girls who are angry and don’t know yet who to blame, and I tell them this truth.
You know, its turtles all the way down, nothing is certain, tomorrow is a gift, yesterday is gone, move on. Take the gifts, leave the things you don’t require behind, nothing is promised, and this may just be all you get, so quit the theatrics and deal, or change it.
So I said Christmas Eve to the daughter of a friend, a lost girl, who believes in werewolves, has a Native American soul hidden inside, and she was thrown to the wind, left behind, and so now she questions her own value, till this voice from some myth, some legend of something that never was whispered to her, pst, what if?
So, I said, and…what if? Who cares what others believe, be it real or fiction. If the voice in your heart helps you be strong and sure, whispers to your soul new stories, and it wakes you? Then, I said to her believe in werewolves, as I believe in elves and spirits are all around, I said, and if you just believe in something, the rest comes, even if her spirit animal happens to be magic. It comes, it stays, it helps you find your home, your way, which is the only way, yet to find magic you have to first believe in it, there is no other way, I said.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”Maya Angelou
As her father looked on, with worried eyes, and I say with my own, silently, I know, I know, but go with it. And so he does, and finally, I can see vindication in her eyes, as she finds another kindred soul that sees the things she believes, at the edge of sadness, risking her own madness, and a quiet ensues.
As all her angry, I am right, her need to dominate the conversation, and I say, shhhhh. Turtles all the way down, I know nothing, we know nothing, life can be shite, it can be just right, or so very, very wrong, and this gift of free will has always been ours, will be, and it is yours to do with as you see fit.
Be a light in the passageway, a candle in the dark, just so the ones who need to see can see, and for those who need to pass by on the way to somewhere new, if that is all that you do, be a light in the dark.
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”Maya Angelou