She Who Gives Life, She Who Gives Form: Ancient/ Modern Earth-Based Paradigms

Luciana Percovich.              Our human prehistory of over 100,000 years  contains ample evidence for the recognition of the female principle in the creation of the cosmos.  Cave art and carved stone figures represent the woman as a source of wisdom, ordering, differentiation and our dependence on nature.

Joan Marler.                            A student of Marija Gimbutas carries on her tradition of investigating the neolithic cultures of Eastern Europe. She finds visual metaphors representing culturally-formed complex ideas that provide meaning to members of the community. The iconography of fertilization, gestation, and birth was established 40,000 years ago. The reciprocity between plant life, animals, and the human female was ritualized.

Barbara Alice Mann.                A Seneca living in Ohio presented an overview of the American Indigenous cosmos, using examples from her local landscapes.  A twinship exists in the mind that differentiates Earth and Sky, Air and Water, the North-South axis (female), and the East-West (male). She stated “Two directions make one. You can’t have One-ness until you understand the Two.”  The mounds constructed on the land by Native Americans were created in pairs and reflect the patterns of stars in the nighttime sky.

Woman Stands Shining.           She is Dine, residing in Taos. She underscores the interconnectedness of being. She outlines the ceremony of first menses as a re-enactment of the First Creation. Not only is the young women experiencing the cultural history of her own people (grandmothers) and an interdependent relationship with the Earth, but she is simultaneously connecting with all the (life-giving) women in humanity and all the life-giving forces in Nature. She stressed the relationship between inner earth and the sky above. The cosmos is circular, cyclical, and spiral in opposition to the linear perspective of our dominant culture.

Genevieve Vaughn.                        Her main focus is on the human trait of gifting. She would classify our species as Homo donans. She says this is particularly characteristic of mothers. This she contrasts with the patriarchical orientation to a market economy, exchange, and profit.

Phyllis Curott was listed as a presenter but remained an attentive attendee in the rear of the room.

This whole session covered a lot of ground that I have experienced as a student in my anthropology classes. I was particularly impressed with Woman Stands Shining’s profound connections, and the workings of the human mind. I like the way she thinks.