The Valdivan culture is one of the earliest occurances of pottery in the New World, said by some to be connected to the Jomon cultures of early Japan. There are also many plaques like this found around Mexico city at a very early date but belonging to an unidentified culture.Valdivian stone figures are rectangular in shape with delineated eyes and features in characteristic minimalist style, Ecuador. (Around 3500-2000 B.C.) The Valdivia Culture is one of the oldest settled cultures recorded in the Americas. It emerged from the earlier Las Vegas culture and thrived on the Santa Elena peninsula near the modern-day town of Valdivia, Ecuador between 3500 BC and 1800 BC.
But compare this notice from early Iberia (Spain):
Chalcolithic rock art dated in Iberiahttp://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2012/06/chalcolithic-rock-art-dated-in-iberia.html
|One of the dated sites|
|Orange: areas of "oculado" idols in SW Iberia|
|An "oculado" pot from Los Millares.|
It is often thought that the "oculados" represent some sort of deity of the age.
Sources[es]: Pileta, La Cerca.
Ref. Juan F. Ruiz et al. Calcium oxalate AMS 14C dating and chronology of post-Palaeolithic rock paintings in the Iberian Peninsula. Two dates from Abrigo de los Oculados (Henarejos, Cuenca, Spain). Journal of Archaeological Science 2012. Pay per view.
The Eye Goddess is concerned with a fascinating subject and is filled with factual details, illuminated by almost a hundred plates and text figures, but the discussion is not of the high quality the subject needs. The work shows haste, forgivable in a man of 71 with heart trouble, but it fails to use those necessary techniques (such as distribution maps and period maps) which Crawford himself long advocated and which the subject demanded. As a result, I fear, his general thesis, which I personally accept, will not seem convincing to the much larger group of interested persons who do not now accept it. And Crawford's task in this book was not so much to present a theory of cultural diffusion, since the theory had already been advanced by others, as to mobilize the evidence in such a way as to convince those who had rejected the theory when it was previously offered. Crawford's book gives a great deal of evidence, but it is not mobilized and as a result will not, I fear, convince the sceptics.There is another complication because this belief is tied very closely to belief in the Evil Eye
The thesis itself is not completely clear. It seems to have three parts: (1) that there was a wave, or several waves, of cultural diffusion from Syria about 3000 B.C., westward by way of the Mediterranean to southeast Spain and thence, via the Straits of Gibraltar and the Atlantic, to the Canary Islands, Brittany, Ireland, England, and Denmark; (2) that, as a part of this cultural movement, there passed a religious amalgam concerned with a female fertility deity who was also a goddess of death and resurrection; and (3) that "eyes" were a symbol of this deity. As the title suggests, Crawford centered his attention on this last point. Why he did so is a puzzle, since his decision to write the book was based originally on R. J. C. Atkinson's discovery of a carving of a "Mycenaean" dagger and several axes on the sarsens at Stonehenge. In working backward toward Syria, Crawford tells us, "The axes receded and the Faces [especially eyes] obtruded themselves." In consequence, Crawford begins his book with the Temple of the Eye Goddess at Tell Brak in eastern Syria. He could hardly have picked a worse point of embarkation.
The Eye Temple of Brak is a poor place to begin because of the site and because of its date. Syria, on the ancient channel of communication (the "Syrian saddle") linking Mesopotamia and the East with the Mediterranean and the West, has always been an area of blurred cultural outlines and of syncretic confusions. And the date of the Eye Temple, about 3000 B.C., is too late in this history of the diffusion of symbols to provide any clarity to their meaning and history.
In beginning his discussion with the Eye Temple at Brak, Crawford fell into the middle of a confusing situation. In reference to both temple and goddess the word "eye" should be plural, for, as Mallowan recognized ("Excavations at Brak and Chagar Bazar," Iraq IX, 1947, p. 35) "The eye-idols . . . must have been a peculiar localised adaptation of a more widely propagated cult," namely the "spectacle-idols." The latter were derived either from symbols for breasts or, as Frankfort believed (Journal of Near East Studies III, 1944, 198-200; and VIII, 1949, 194-200), from the Mesopotamian "hut symbol." Both referred to the fertility goddess we are studying. The difficulty arose because the early worshippers, being concerned only with the goddesses' female attributes, dispensed with head, arms, and legs and represented the deity by a torso marked only with breasts and pubic triangle (examples in C. Zervos, L' Art de la Mesopotamie de la fin du quatrieme millenaire au XVc siècle avant notre ere, Paris, 1935, plates 51, 157, 174, or E. Neumann, The Great Mother, New York, 1955, plates 6, 8, 10-14, 16-17, 23). The breasts and triangle, apart from the torso, became the spectacle symbol with the same significance. At Brak some of the "eyes" are really breasts (Mallowan 1947: plate 25). Crawford was aware of this symbolic confusion of eyes and breasts (pp. 41, 48, 82); in one case (plate 11) he reproduces two similar pothandles, calling the symbols "eyes" in one case but "breasts" in the other (p. 46). The confusion is understandable because by 3000 B.C. pious persons were drawing "spectacle" symbols without any clear idea that they stood for anything except the general fertility-resurrection conception. Moreover, torsos with two circles and a triangle were carelessly drawn and came to be regarded as faces. Ultimately this developed into the "owl face," the symbol of Athena and other goddesses, such as appears on the famous Athenian tetradrachma. Crawford realized some of this confusion (pp. 91-92) but he never went far enough behind Tell Brak, either in time or space, to see that a fundamental distinction must be made between the "eyes" of the Neolithic earth goddess and the eye or oculus of the urban solar deity. He should have been aware of Margarete Riemschneider's warning against this confusion (Augengott und heilige Hocizeit, Leipzig, 1953) because his bibliography lists E. D. van Buren's discussion of this work (in Iraq XVII, 1955, 164-175) but he failed to avoid the error.
|Neolithic Owl-Goddess figure Burial Urn from the Balkans:|
Owl-Headed Vases from Donnelly Atlantis, The Antediluvian Empire. first two from Troy, last from Peru.
Dr. Schliemann, in his excavations of the ruins of Troy, found a number of what he calls "owl-headed idols" and vases. I give specimens on page 398 and page 400.The Owl Face motif is recognised as one of the motifs of the Mother Goddess cult found across all of Europe by Mariska Gimbutas, and she derives it from Cave Art by way of Neolithic Old Europe (Beginning in the realm of 7000 BC and lasting until it was conquered by Indo-Europeans.)
In Peru we find vases with very much the same style of face.
Athena (the Anatha of the Near East according to Robert Graves, originally a Libyan/North African deity) Originally a Snake-goddess but later
more usually identified as the Owl-Goddess.There really seems little doubt that the owl-eye motif was generally an Atlantean motif found in Cave Art in parts of Europe and the Sharan region and that the Plaque-Goddesses, Owl-Goddess or Oculados were a later specialised sort of an idol associated most strongly with the area of Tartessos at the beginnings of recorded history, at a time equivalent to founding of several major cities in Sumeria. Furthermore we have direct evidence of these Tartessans scouting out South America and making contact with Syria in the realm of 4000-3000 BC: these would then be the "Para-River People" identified by Dr Cyrus Gordon as having been present in South America since before 4000 BC. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_H._Gordon
Tenacity in religion, myth, and folklore: the neolithic Goddess of Old Europe preserved in a non-Indo-European setting
- The interpretation of neolithic art, monumental architecture, and settlement
paraphernalia has rested chiefly upon the evidence offered by documented
Indo-European mythologies and of the European folklore found especially in
peripheral areas. The evidence for a pervasive neolithic goddess cult throughout
Europe is striking, and it is significant that Basque mythology features a
goddess who displays characteristics both non-Christian and non-Indo-European,
and who has much in common with the neolithic European goddess as reconstructed
from the archaeological and mythological record. Mari's associations with the
sacred and secret places in the geography of the Basque country, her association
with the activities such as spinning, and her attendant spirits associated with
megalithic monuments mark her as a unique preservation into contemporary Europe,
who has much to show us in the way of furthering our reconstruction of ancient
Studies of prehistoric European religion interpret the testimony of archaeological evidence as reflected in the abundance of neolithic art, monumental architecture, and settlement paraphernalia discovered and described especially in the past twenty years. The interpretation of these mute materials has rested chiefly upon the evidence offered by documented Indo-European mythologies and those folkways and the folktales associated with them which are preserved throughout Europe, especially in peripheral areas. The folkloristic and mythological evidence for a pervasive neolithic goddess cult throughout Europe is in itself so striking that the burden of disproof lies on the critics of this interpretation, and a heavy burden it would be even if things remained as they are at present. But we have as well a treasure house of supporting and corroborating evidence available to us from the folklore of the one indigenous European people which was able to remain isolated and apart from the relentless influence of Indo-European culture which came to dominate Europe in every sphere: language, religion, social organization, economy, and attitude toward the world -- the Euskaldunak, the Basques of the Pyrenees. This paper will offer an introduction to the Basque goddess, her forms, habits, and attributes, and will demonstrate that, despite even the influence of Christianity in most recent times, the Great Goddess has never yet left the landscape of Europe. While in some areas of Europe she was transformed and absorbed into Indo-European mythologies, in the Basque country she only retreated into those places in which her power and mystery had always been great: into the caves, wells, and mountains of the high Pyrenees.
A systematic description of the nature of the indigenous religion of neolithic Europe was offered first over two decades ago by Marija Gimbutas, and since that time our discipline has seen her work and the work of others elaborate a schema both elegant and convincing. Today we may characterize Old European religion as a labyrinth of conceptually-related symbols emphasizing a dialectic of formation, destruction, and reformation. Growth, withering, and regeneration are the realities of agricultural economy, and it is not surprising that the relation of early farmers to their livelihood found expression in their religion: and so they would understand life to be cyclical, in the pattern of birth, death, and rebirth. One might suggest that such a symbolic system could simply be a methaphor for the patterns of day-to-day neolithic (or palaeolithic!) life, and, as has been suggested in the past, that the images and symbols found throughout the prehistoric period were a form of "sympathetic magic". But early human symbolic systems are no less subtle (and indeed may sometimes be more subtle) than our own; the distinction between "primitive" and "modern" is a notion which should have been discredited and discarded long ago. A symbolic system of the complexity of the Old European type is not a simple metaphor responding to the patterns of early agricultural life -- such a suggestion is needlessly utilitarian -- though it should certainly find its roots in such patterns. But there is in their religion a great subtlety of symbol, and I maintain that, for these prosperous, successful, and creative people, the dynamic and vital Old European symbols reflected a living, generative metaphor, a set of archetypes which informed their lives and their perceptions of their lives: not as a credo of belief, but as a grammar of spirituality. In order to understand the religious and symbolic systems of prehistory effectively, we must approach them diachronically, to see them as the dynamic and living entities they were. Scholars of the present day who concern themselves with the thorns and the flowers of human spirituality are used to the relative ease of discussing recent, text-based, religions; we have become accustomed to thinking of our documents in terms of synchronic, momentary, and even personal religious experience. The analysis of individual archaeological sites and objects and the analysis of mythological and folkloric materials can give us the kind of diachronic overview of the situation from which we may extrapolate a coherent picture of the spiritual emphasis both of individual cult sites (such as Lepenski Vir) and of larger cultural groups (such as the temple builders on Malta or the Megalithic cultures of the Atlantic coast). If our purpose is to come to a genuine understanding of the lives of our ancestors and the cultural and spiritual legacy left us by them, we may find it necessary to reevaluate our understanding of the terms religion, myth, and folklore. These terms define a model which can be visualized as a spherical continuum, the center of which any people would call simply, "our way", "the way things are", or "dharma". Such a Way is composed of the totality of symbolic, habitual, individual, collective, and environmental concerns which make up what we call culture; where these concerns touch upon questions of Being and the place of humans in the Cosmos, they make up what we call spirituality. It is we who determine that an element which deals with what we call the Transcendent belongs to the one of the three zones of the sphere called "religious", while something that has to do with some "mundane" utility such as herbal healing or morality tales should be placed into the zone called "folkloric". In what follows if I speak of Old European religion it is because that term appears to encompass the most with the least sense of belittlement; but still I am not happy with the term. To be sure, we must call it something. But thought is not symbolic system is not religion is not belief is not belief system is not mythology is not dharma (etc.). It seems to me that we must unlearn the inherited habits of our imprecise use of such terms. What our scholarship is about, in my view, is the simple and straightforward attempt to understand how our ancestors looked at things and lived their lives, in order to see how we got where we are, and to see if they have anything to teach us. I think it is pretty clear that they do, and that we have quite a lot of work ahead of us working our way through the labyrinth of reconstruction and comparison. We will not find Old European religion to be always and everywhere uniform in its treatment of sacred space, time, action, or motif; it spans a continent and many millennia. The archaeological record suggests that an emphasis on tradition and continuity could well characterize the Old European complex at its core, prior to the Indo-European incursions. To describe, as we do, a labyrinth of conceptually-related symbols emphasizing a dialectic of formation, destruction, and reformation is not to describe a single culture or cultural complex. Rather, returning to the notion of the generative metaphor, we find instead in Old Europe a cultural multiplex built and building around these cyclical entities.
Now in the Basque country we have a situation unique on the European scene: a test case against which to measure our present interpretations, and with which to assist in shaping our work in future. In Euskaleri we have what to all appearances is an indigenous community which preserves many cultural elements of a non-Indo-European character. We should hope for the Basque material to function as evidence to confirm or deny our beliefs about the nature of Old European religion and its pervasiveness in ancient Europe. Looking at the Basques, we must remember that they are now a modern people, far removed from the Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples we study; yet what we discover in so looking is that what they do seem to preserve is astonishingly familiar. The name by which the primary deity in Basque mythology is chiefly known is Mari. She is chief of many spirits -- most of whom are female -- found throughout the mythology. Mari is both a proper name and a generic title (that is, "Mari" vs. "the Mari"). It is accompanied by the name of the place with which she is associated. In Amézqueta, Txindokiko Marie is 'the Mari (or Mistress) of Txindoki'. She is known by many other names: Marie Labako 'Mari of the Oven' (in Ispáster), Marije Kobako 'Mari of the Cave' (in Marquina), Andre Mari Munoko 'Madam Mari of Muno' (in Oyarzun), Muruko Damea 'the Lady of Muru' (in Atáun), Anbotoko Dama 'Lady of Anboto' (in Zarauz), Anbotoko Sorgiña 'the witch of Anboto' (in Durango), Aketegiko Sorgiñe 'the witch of Aketegi' (in Cegama), and so on. Numerous places are named after her: Marizulo 'Mari's cavern' (on the mountain of Larrunarri above Amézqueta), Marijenkobia 'Mari's cave' (in Anboto), and Marikutx 'Mari's tomb' (a dolmen in Izarraitz) are examples. Her husband, Maju, also bears the names Sugaar and Sugoi, which mean 'snake'. He often appears as a sickle or half-moon of fire; his passage is said to forebode a storm. Maju visits Mari each Friday to comb her hair, according to legend in Zarauz. Although Mari's name is reminiscent of the Christian name María, we might easily consider the syncretism to be at least partly coincidental; for there are resonances within the native Basque in other contexts. José Miguel de Barandiarán, the foremost scholar of Basque folklore and mythology, remarked that
- es posible que el nombre Mari deba su origen al cristiano
María, pero tampoco cabe descartar otra procedencia. Podría tener alguna
relación con los nombres Mairi, Maide, y Maindi con que son
designados otros personajes legendarios de la mitología vasca, si bien los temas
vinculados a éstos son diferentes. Los Mairi son los constructores de los
dólmenes; los Maide son genios de los montes, de sexo masculino,
constructores de los cronlechs, mientras que sus correspondientes de sexo
femenino son las Lamin o genios de las fuentes, de los ríos y de las
cuevas; las Maindi son quizá las almas de antepasados que de noche
visitan sus antiguos hogares....
- Emoiten esposu artzie ta orrasie,Nik kenduko deutzut
Torrontegi'ko mintegie.Si no me das la aventadora y el peine,
yo te quitaré el vivero de Torróntegui.
Emaidezu orrazie,Espabe kenduko dotzut bizie.Dame el peine,
si no, te quitaré la vida.
Lanbreabe'ko etzanderea,Ekasu nire orrasie;Espabe egingo dot sure askasie.Señora de Lambreabe,
dame mi peine;
si no, haré tu descendencia.
Intxus'ko eratziye,Ekazu neure orrasiye.Espabare kendukotzutKortako bei nagosiye.Pariente (?) de Inchus,
dame mi peine;
si no, quitaré
la vaca mayor de la cuadra.
Ozten ezpona neure orrazija,Galduko deunat eure azi-orrazi guztija.Si no me das mi peine,
destruiré toda tu descendencia.
Matxine'ko nesakmea,Ekatzu nere orrazeaBestela emango dinatEre biziko ezurretako onazea.Criada de Machine,
dame mi peine;
si no, te dare dolor
de huesos para toda la vida.
- Mari toma generalmente figuras zoomórficas en sus moradas
subterráneas; las otras formas, en la superficie de la tierra y cuando atraviesa
Las figuras de animales como la de toro, de carnero, de macho cabrío, de
caballo, de serpiente, de buitre, etc., de que hacen referencia los relatos
míticos relativos al mundo subterráneo, representan, pues, a Mari y a sus
subordinados, es decir, a los genios terrestres o fuerzas telúricas a las que el
pueblo atribuye los fenómenos del mundo. Los cambios de figura, mencionados en
diverson mitos, confirman esta idea.
- como de seres imaginarios de otro tiempo. Hay, sin embargo, personas que, al
plantear la cuestión de la existencia de tales seres, recuerdan esta frase o
sentencia tradicional en neustro pueblo: izena duan guztla omen da
'cuanto tiene nombre existe'. Tal sentencia y la cristiana que le es
opuesta, han dado lugar a una actitud de compromiso que aparece en muchos
relatos populares, y que se halla estereotipado en la siguiente frase que alude
a seres o genios míticos: direnik ez da sinistu bear; ez direla ez da esan
bear 'no se debe creer que existen; no hay que decir que no existen'.
- Un pastor construyó su choza cerca de la cueva de Supelaur. Temiendo
la mala vecindad de Mari, fijó cruces y cera bendita a ambos lados de la boca de
la cueva. Mas luego le vino una banda de buitres, y posándose en el techo de su
choza, decían al pastor que quitase de la cueva los objetos benditos. No cesaron
en su intento, hasta que el pastor, temiendo alguna venganza, accedió a sus
The system of symbolization in Old European religion has been found to be extremely dynamic, flexible, and inventive. It seems that the Old Europeans sought and saw in their world its great patterns: they celebrated the connections between things, and were perhaps not concerned, as we have been, with the differentiation of things one from the other. We should expect to find Old European taxonomies to have much more in common structurally with Navajo taxonomies that with Linnaean ones. It may be that the Old Europeans looked for unity in the things of their world, for the commonality uniting their lives one to another and with the Source of Life itself. The most successful methodology to deal with the reconstruction of the kind of data we have from prehistoric Europe will be found to take not only archaeology and linguistics into account, but anthropology and poetry, and the study of archetypes in mythology, mysticism, and religion. A certain amount of considered intuition is therefore vital. We know from their art that the Old Europeans worked with an elegant sense of the interconnectedness of symbols and the balance of forms; our reconstruction must be no less elegant and balanced to be convincing. We would do well to look for the subtle to understand these subtle people. It is not safe to attempt to be both seer and scholar, poet and historian -- but we find that a proper archaeomythology must make explicit use of the once-suspect tools of intuition and feeling. This is a heretical notion to many historians of religion -- and doubtless to many archaeologists and linguists -- but recognizing that we have made use of these tools in our reconstruction is, at the very least, honest. Valid connections between Basque folklore collected in the late 2nd millennium A.D. and neolithic artifacts dated to the 4th millennium B.C. can reasonably be made -- and I trust that I have suggested this convincingly -- but it remains true that in some measure those connections have less to do with "algorithms" than with "leaps of faith". Unsubstantiated theory and musing are practices which our Romanticist predecessors have taught us not to employ; but statistical analyses of grave goods and arguments about glottalic phonemes -- though pursuits both noble and necessary -- are not enough either. The great synthesis of Indo-European and Old European studies is yet to be born. As synthesists working between disciplines, we must learn to be poets, and look with our hearts as well as our heads. We know that this is not easy to do -- but our efforts will surely continue to bear fruit.
There is one final word which may serve to remind us of the importance of the Goddess in prehistory as a legacy and heritage in our own mythology. It is a word which is fitting in the most literal sense: for it could fit easily into the folklore of any European culture of the present day, be it Basque, Greek, Celtic, Germanic, or Slavic. Fittingly too, it is the word of a woman, the word of our own Mother Goose:
- There was an old womanLived under a hill;And if
she's not gone,She lives there still.
Notes See especially Marija Gimbutas 1982 and 1989.Back to text.
 Our intimacy with the individual affects us whether the work we are reading is anonymous or not. Cf., as examples, the Madhupindika sutta and the Revelations of Julian of Norwich; their textuality, as might go without saying, gives us the immediacy of personality unavailable to us in textless traditions. It seems to me that it is this immediacy which we seek even as we endeavor to make sense of this textless material -- but that we must be aware that what we bring to the material from within makes as much difference to our interpretations as the evidence which comes to us from without. This is what makes speculation about prehistory so difficult and so rewarding. Back to text.
 Western post-Romantic scholastic categories like these do not seem to fit real human culture -- even that of Western post-Romantic scholars -- very well. Many traditions do not endeavor to make the distinction between the "secular" and the "religious" that Western intellectual tradition does, or believes that it is able to do. All traditions understand in some sense the notion of Transcendence, but the interface between that Transcendence and "the sacred", "the mundane", and "the profane" is rarely as neat as our categories imply and lead us to believe. Back to text.
 Superstition was a category advanced by wily medieval Christian missionaries and other prescriptivists with axes to sharpen, and its legacy -- throughout much of the lay and the scholastic worlds of the present day -- has given a connotation of "ignorant gullibility" to the terms mythology and folklore (see "Superstition" in the Oxford English Dictionary).Unfortunately, despite the work of profound observers of humanity like Joseph Campbell, notions of "primitiveness" still pervade the assumptions which many mythologists, folklorists, and students of religion -- as well as other scientists -- bring to the study of ancient cultures. As I hope to suggest, this sad situation may be only for want of a little imagination. Back to text.
 José María Satrústegui 1980:110. Back to text.
 José Miguel de Barandiarán 1972:157. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:419. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:155, 220-21. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:158. 'It is possible that the name Mari owes its origin to the Christian María, but other precedent cannot be discounted. There might be some relation with the names Mairi, Maide, and Maindi with which other legendary personages of Basque mythology are designated, even if the themes associated with these are different. The Mairi are the builders of the dolmens; the Maide are mountain spirits, of male sex, builders of the cromlechs, while their female counterparts are the Lamiñak or spirits of fountains, rivers, and caves; the Maindi are perhaps the souls of ancestors which at night visit their old hearths....' (My translation here and below.) Back to text.
 Gimbutas 1982:158-63, 1989:187-95. Back to text.
 Hedges 1983:78-79, 145-147. Back to text.
 See figures 1-5. Back to text.
 Gimbutas 1986:11. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:138-40. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:431-32. 'If you do not give me the winnowing fork and the comb, I will take the nursery of Torrontegi from you.' 'Give me my comb for if not, I will kill you.' 'Give me the comb; if not, I will take your life.' 'Lady of Lanbreabe, give me my comb; if not, I will have your descendents.' 'Kinsman (?) of Intxus, give me my comb; if not, I will take the largest cow in your stable.' 'If you don't give me my comb, I will destroy all your descendents.' 'Maidservant of Matxine, give me my comb; if not, I will give you pain in your bones all of your life.' Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:448. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1979:102-04. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:158. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:159. 'Mari generally takes on zoomorphic shapes in her subterranean abodes; she takes the other forms when she is on the surface of the earth or when she crosses the air.
'The animal shapes like that of the bull, ram, billy goat, horse, serpent, vulture, etc., referred to in the mythical tales about the underworld, represent, therefore, Mari and her subordinates, that is, the terrestrial spirits or telluric forces to which the people attribute earthly phenomena. The shape-changing mentioned in various myths confirms this idea.' Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:417. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:417-18. Back to text.
 Some may be tempted to appeal for the canonization of Mari as patroness of archæologists. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1973:418. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:160. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1979:51-54. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:163. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1979:160, 163. Back to text.
 Gimbutas 1989: figs. 104-08. Back to text.
 Elizabeth Barber, whose Wörter-und-Sachen investigations into the development of textile-culture in prehistoric Europe are paradigmatic for their interpretative incisiveness, has suggested to me that there is a distinction made between spinning and weaving where divinities are concerned. The goddess who spins is in a real sense a maker: for she creates, ex nihilo vel ex ipsa. The goddess who weaves, rather, is a shaper: for she takes what is and imposes form onto it. There is a difference in the connotation of power between she weaver of the tapestry of fate and the spinner of the stuff (that is, Stoff) out of which such fate is woven. It is significant, perhaps, to our comprehension of Mari's place and power in the Basque world, that she Spins, rather than Weaves. Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:140. 'as imaginary beings of another time. There are, nonetheless, people who, in response to a question about the existence of such beings, remember this traditional Basque phrase or sentence: Izena duan guztla omen da "Whatever has a name exists". Such a notion, and the Christianity which is opposed to it, has given place to an attitude of compromise which appears in many popular stories, and which is found stereotyped in the following phrase, alluding to mythical beings or spirits: Direnik ez da sinistu bear: ez direla ez da esan bear "You don't have to believe that they exist; you don't have to say that they don't exist."'
Barandiarán gives another version of this story in 1973:423; his 70-year-old informant Catalina Erri-Eyerabide related that her father, as a child on the way to catechism, had seen the lamiñak on the road, passing by a river. Later, when he mentioned it to the priest, the priest told him: Todos (los seres) que se habla existen; pero guarda para tí el secreto, no hay que decir que existen 'All (the beings) which are named exist; but keep the secret to yourself -- it isn't necessary to say that they exist.' Back to text.
 Barandiarán 1972:290. 'A shepherd built his hut near the cave of Supelegor. Fearing the evil of his neighbor Mari, he fixed crosses and blessed candles on either side of the mouth of the cave. But then a flock of vultures came to him, and alighting on the roof of his hut, they told the shepherd to remove the blessed objects from the cave. They kept insisting until the shepherd, fearing some act of vengeance, gave in to their demands.' Back to text.
 Gladys A. Reichert's trenchant analysis of the web-matrices making up Navajo religion may serve as a template for further investigation into the nature of Old European conceptual matrices; see Reichert 1983. Back to text.
 Mother Goose 1978:13. It is worthwhile to make one last comment regarding the tenacity of folk tradition. When Blanche Fisher Wright illustrated this collection of Mother Goose rhymes in 1916, she chose to watercolor a woman seated outside of her cave in the act of darning (see figure 6). (This happy happenstance cannot in all probability be reasonably connected to Basque folklore.)
Nursery-rhyme scholarship is not particularly revealing as to the content of this particular poem. Iona and Peter Opie cite its appearance in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, ca. 1744, "the earliest known book of nursery rhymes" (Opie and Opie 1951:432, plate VII [facing p. 154]). Their comment that "'the self-evident proposition, which is the very Essence of Truth' appealed to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century minds" (1951:432), is, if taken to have anything to do with the rhyme's origins, fairly weak and not particularly convincing in light of the tenaciousness of goddess belief in Europe. A delight in self-evident drollery may have preserved the rhyme through the 17th and 18th centuries, but I suggest that the rhyme itself has a more profound ancestry, not unlike that of the ambiguous Basque sentiments about the existence of named beings (Izena duan guztla omen da; direnik ez da sinistu bear: ez direla ez da esan bear) mentioned above (cf. note 30). Somebody first spoke these sentiments aloud, and we may not be wrong to suppose that it may have been someone who saw the encroachment of a new religion onto their own. That, after all, is the kind of explication for transformational process which the members of the 1989 conference sought.
The personage of Mother Goose herself does not extend back into deep antiquity, but rather about three hundred years: Gloria T. Delamar cites a French collection of fairy tales, published in 1696 or 1697 by Charles Perrault, a member of the Académie Française, and entitled "Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités (Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals). The frontispiece showed an old woman spinning and telling tales, with a placard on the page which bore the words Contes de ma Mère l'Oye (Tales of My Mother the Goose)" [Delamar 1987:2-5]. Doubtless we may think that a connection between a spinning or darning grandmother and the telling of folk tales and rhymes was made independently by both Perrault and Fisher Wright. Back to text.
Figure 1: Owl-beaked goddess with human breasts and necklace, 60 cm tall, engraved on the wall of an antechamber in Hypogeum 23, ca. 3000-2500 B.C., of the Razet cemetery at Coizard, south of Épernay (Marne) in north-central France (after Gimbutas 1989:192 [fig. 295]).
Figure 2: Goddess depicted with beaked eyebrows above and prominent vulva below, 180 cm tall, engraved on stone slab in an angled passage tomb, ca. 3000 B.C., near Luffang on the river Crac'h, south of Auray (Morbihan) in southwestern Brittany (after Gimbutas 1989:193 [fig. 298]). The placement of this powerful abstract image along the passage into the tomb (Shee Twohig 1981:181 [fig. 139]) must have been awesome to those who took part in ritual there. Certainly that placement makes it clear that she was meant to be seen (O'Sullivan 1986:81).
Figure 3: Owl-faced figure with hands at the pubis, engraved on a stone plaque and found in a megalithic passage grave, ca. 3500 B.C., from Montemor-o-Novo, west of Évora (Alto Alentejo) in west-central Portugal (after Almagro Gorbea 1973:219 [fig. 202]). The goddess' hands often meet at the pubic triangle or lie across her belly (cf. Gimbutas 1989 figs. 307, 309, 320, etc., and figs. 4 and 5 below).
Figure 4: Beaked figure with large eyes, wing-like arms, and "energetic" chevrons, 7.2 cm high, engraved on a schist plaque and found in a megalithic passage grave, ca. 3500 B.C, from Horta Velha do Reguengos by Barbacena, southwest of Monforte (Alto Alentejo) in central Portugal (after Leisner & Leisner 1959:57-58 [Taf. 34.10]).
Figure 5: Beaked goddess with hands touching the pubic triangle, engraved on a light sanddtone plaque found in Dolmen 1, ca. 3500 B.C., at Vega del Guadancil, southeast of Garrovillas de Alcometar (Cáceres) in west-central Spain (after Leisner & Leisner 1959:323 [Taf. 55.1]). Angular zigzags on side and back may be connected symbolically with the regenerative energy of the vulva and of this goddess
Figure 6: The Old Woman Under A Hill, seated before her subterranean habitation, engaged in typical creative activity (after Mother Goose 1978:13).
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From The Journal of Indo-European Studies Volume 17, nos. 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 1989, pp. 277-295.
Michael Everson, Evertype, Cathair na Mart, 2001-09-21