Annine van der Meer - The language of MA, the primal motherIllustrated, 592 p. ISBN 978.90.820313.0.0
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The book in a nutshell
Part 1 consists of eight chapters, part 2 the same. This is no coincidence. Three and four make seven Seven plus one makes eight. In the eight begins a new octave, a new time, a new mankind. In the lemniscate of the eight, the independent feminine and masculine come together in perfect balance. By bringing the forgotten feminine into the picture, balance and connection is created with the masculine. Unity.
Part 1 deals with the period 40,000 BC until the year 0. We will bridge these huge time spans in two steps: the first giant step runs from 40,000-10,000 BC, and the second from 10,000 BC until 0. Around 40,000 BC the early modern humans spread throughout Europe and gave us the first proof of artistic ability and appreciation. This is why the book starts at this point in history. The first period from 40,000-10,000 BC covers the time of hunters and gatherers. Around 10,000 BC, the last Ice Age finished and the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture began. Hence the second period from 10.000 BC to 0 covers early and high agrarian cultures. Part 1 categorises genres and varieties of Venus Art and includes them in a coordinating system of symbols.
Part 2 is set out thematically. We follow characteristic themes from the feminine system of symbols transversely through time and culture from 10.000 BC to the year 0. There is order, method and logic in this visual language. The patriarchalisation of the system of symbols can be followed through the centuries, theme by theme. In addition, it goes from feminine and egalitarian and balance between masculine and feminine to exclusively masculine and misogynistic. Throughout the line it is possible to see reflected in Venus Art a general hardening and militarisation of society, in which the position of women and thus the image of women deteriorates.
Parts 1 and 2 make two things very clear. Firstly, that Venus Art occurs throughout the world. Secondly, that later, a younger system of symbols in which the exclusively masculine is central, is superimposed on top of the system of Venus symbols.
In chapter 1 you become acquainted with the patriarchal Venus as the goddess of erotic love. You read how she is wrongfully sexualised and how this one-sided image is projected back onto women of great dynamism and power from prehistory. I will show that the primal Venus has more aspects than just eroticism.
In chapter 2 you learn about the misunderstandings and misconceptions around Venus and her art. You read how archaeologists used to fragment and isolate feminine art and thus missed the greater intercultural connections. There are diverse opinions on the function, which in definition and conception have created a Tower of Babel-like confusion in relation to Venus Art. Moreover, there is considerable bias as words like 'idols' and 'false gods' are used. I have provided a list of neutral appellations, so that the terminology and the jargon used in this book are clearer.
In chapter 3, on the basis of new archaeological, anthropological and genetic research, the traditional image of prehistory without women is dismissed. The time is ripe for a new, less one-sided approach in which the contribution of woman to evolution is reclaimed.
Chapter 4 goes back to the Palaeolithic and shows how Venus Art spread from Western France to Eastern Siberia over an 'axis of feminine iconography'. Venus has revealed a coordinating system of symbols with ten basic characteristics. She is in seven sacred poses. Three age groups are depicted in Venus Art: the young lady or maiden, the pregnant lady and the older, experienced and wise lady who is part of many cultures: the clan mother, midwife, healer or woman shaman. Items of clothing such as belts, trains, and round caps which Venus women wear throughout the axis of feminine iconography, are depicted. These accentuate their role and social standing.
In chapter 5, we jump to the Mesolithic and Neolithic era during which the first agrarian cultures emerged. It is clarified why women were important in early agricultural societies and stand at the forefront. Venus Art shows clan mothers in a matrilinear system of family relationships. After this, the process of patriarchalisation is covered. Migrations of pastoral people are linked with mini ice ages and climate deterioration. As a result, the Indo-Europeans migrated to Western Asia and South-Western Europe in several waves. This action created a snowball effect. It sparked war and an unprecedented aggression in humanity and the world changed into a valley of tears.
In chapter 6 the focus is on Neolithic Venus Art in the Near East. There are two main groups: the naturalistic (figurative) and the semi-abstract art. Belonging to the first group are the oldest Venus figurines from early agrarian cultures which are firmly seated on Mother Earth. After this, they start to stand up slowly and become significantly slimmer over the course of time. Recent archaeological research has made clear that these small 'female figurines' have to do with miniatures of a larger devotional image of the clan mother. Later she became deified and developed into a 'mother goddess' and 'village goddess' (India).
The seven body poses from the Palaeolithic appear repeated in this period. In addition, six 'new' sacred body poses occur: the Venus figurines from the Near East are in a total of 13 sacred body poses, each one with a specific message. I then place the changing body poses of Venus figurines within a historic framework. As the centuries progress, it becomes clear how the favourable position of women in early agrarian cultures visibly founders. The sacred image of woman crumbles. It remains a comfort to conclude that the feminine system of symbols has continued from the Palaeolithic into Venus Art in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze- and Iron Age. It is consistent!
In chapter 7 I investigate whether the extensive Venus Art from the large cultural area of Old Europe corresponds with that of the Near East. The system of symbols and iconography seem to continue and correspond with characteristics of symbols found previously.
The masculine element comes into play. Venus Art in Cyprus enables us to pinpoint the patriarchalisation of the system of symbols. As well as this, guidelines are provided on the basis of which it is possible to distinguish an ancestral mother from the Palaeolithic and Neolithic from a goddess, priestess or adorant (worshipper) in Bronze Age and classical times. The focus is on the second group of abstract art which occurs in great numbers and huge variation. In this second group the abstracted sitting and standing ladies are found: only their female forms are schematized and simplified. The colourful body painting is worn away. This group, which to date has been recorded as sexless and neuter, can now definitively be considered as female, if the masculinity is not expressly depicted with a beard and/or phallus. It is becoming easier to identify the basic outline of the primal ladies, the mothers of life.
In Old Europe, the thirteen body poses seem extremely popular. What is noteworthy is that among the group of male-females or androgynes a duality is depicted: a symbol for dual partnership, connectedness: unity. Furthermore, the pose of the lady who in death regenerates new life is very popular.
In chapter 8 I follow the hunter-gatheresses and early farming women in ancient non-Western cultures. As well as numerous large Megalithic structures, they have also left on Mother Earth a trail of tiny Venus figurines. The smaller one fits into the larger one. Throughout the world, Venus Art is traceable using an unfolding system of symbols. The conclusion is that Venus Art is global and occurs in a connecting intercultural primal layer, which still exists in remaining cultures. Some non-Western people still make 'ancestral mother figurines' or 'little mothers'. Venus Art appears to be art of the primal mothers.
The system of symbols from ancient cultures corresponds with that from classical and modern non-Western cultures. The definition of what Venus Art actually is, can now be established. Village goddesses in India appear to be local and earthly manifestations of a collective feminine life force that is called 'Mother'. The female primal energy is visualised in Venus, who is the mother of mothers and stands at the beginning of creation and the evolutionary process. She is the Great Lady who reconnects and unifies all fragments, in her Venus Art also.
Now all threads come together. The former conclusions are signposted so the reader does not get lost among the trees of the great forest of Venus Art. In the first paragraph the 10 basic characteristics and 13 body poses from Palaeolithic and Neolithic times are compared to Venus Art in later and modern non-Western cultures.
In the second paragraph, the transition from ancestral mother worship to ancestral father worship is mapped. Ancestor art is characterised by enlarged sex organs. The ancestral fathers are also depicted: this seems to be a later development, as ancestral mother worship pre-dates ancestral father worship.
In the third paragraph you learn to distinguish a primal mother from a goddess, priestess and adorant of later classical times. The fourth paragraph. The section finishes with a checklist to support you in your analysis of Venus Art while travelling, in museums, galleries or anywhere else.
The final conclusion is this: The visual Venus language displays a striking consistency and continuity. The feminine system of symbols shows an intercultural and transcultural cohesion in which symbolic characteristics remain repeated over thousands of years and large geographical areas. Preponderant feminine Venus Art has to date been neglected and remained outside of consideration. Venus Art can make a huge contribution to the further dismantling of our history that does not include women.
Chapter 1 starts with the basic original forms of the round feminine and the elongated masculine. Shapes and numbers were developed from this combined basis. It appears that humanity was first more aware of the female aspect. Images of twin goddesses occur everywhere in agrarian cultures, long before masculine duality was depicted. There is feminine duality and there is feminine trinity, before the masculine was included.
In chapter 2 the primal mother leads us to her favourite places. These are any locations with water: the sea, the lake, the river and the spring. But you can also find her on the green island or in the fragrant garden; on the mountain, the high place or the tower; in the cave, in the stone or on her throne. We find feminine symbols on earthenware and carpets, in folk tales and customs, in folklore.
In chapter 3 her relationship with the animal world is discussed. You find the primal mother in the company of her favourite creatures: fish and reptiles such as the frog, the dragon and the snake; birds including raptors and doves; large predators such as the lioness, the leopard and the panther; domesticated animals such as the cow, the goat, the sheep; the mother cow milking her baby bull calf, that later becomes her bull mate. And finally, the insects.
In chapter 4 it becomes clear that her favourite trees and plants are intricately linked with the central themes of life, death and rebirth. There is special attention for fragrant trees and plants. In cultures well-disposed towards women, an attractive fragrance represents divinity. She also has a soft spot for hallucinogen herbs and she has a particular love for grain.
In chapter 5 her body parts are given centre stage: belly, womb, vulva, Venus (pubic) hair, fallopian tubes, the unborn child, the placenta, umbilical cord, umbilicus, blood, breasts, ear, eye and hand. Nor do her very own body parts escape the masculinisation of the feminine language of symbols.
Chapter 6 depicts what clothing she wears, her hairstyle and headdress, and the attributes she conveys. Initially she walks naked, but later she covers herself in thin, translucent fabrics. As the ages of patriarchy approach, her clothing becomes thicker. I have paid special attention to her fertility belt, with which she has faithfully girded herself for 40,000 years. With the increasing size of her headdress and hairstyle, she seems to wish to disguise the devaluation of her position. This flamboyance is nothing more than ostentation.
Inside she knows that she has lost ground to her masculine partner.
In chapter 7 I show her standard poses throughout eras and cultures. The first of these are the nanas or clan mothers who sit or stand in various bodily poses, both in naturalistic and abstract form. Then we see the pregnant ones in the act of giving birth: squatting, lying down or sitting. Then we take a look in the delivery room and examine the new mother and her midwife or midwives. The mother-to-be sometimes clings to birthing ropes that have already been used in the family for many generations, also in the worship of ancestors. Life and death are woven together in the birthing rope. When this difficult task is done, the proud mother shows us her prominent breasts with which she breastfeeds her newborn child. An impressive line of mothers and children is presented. It makes clear how old and universally loved this pose is, long before the christian Madonna carries her child.
Chapter 8 is about the christian Mary, who brings much of the symbolic language of Venus with her to the christian period. As the Lady of all Nations, who in Judaism and Christianity is called Miriam and Mary, she is given other names in Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
But underneath all this diversity hides the uniformity of that one face of the primal mother once known as Venus. "Many are her names, but She is One".
General remark about the divine feminine in texts and art of Ancient Israel. In several chapters of part two, the system of symbols of the Great Lady of Israel is examined and is linked with that of Mary. In the Old Testament the Great Lady of Israel was c. 600 BC (and later) written out of the text by scribes carrying out 'corrections'. Using the new method of 'text archaeology', we are able to trace the corrections made by the scribes in the canonical Hebrew edition of Old Testament texts and to discover the female-friendly layer below these 'corrections'.
This enables us to reconstruct the system of symbols of the Great Lady of Israel and to show that it is coherent with the system of symbols of other ancient cultures in the Near East and the global system of symbols.
The conclusion must be that the internationally used feminine system of symbols, which showed a balance between the female and male element (mother and son/consort), must have been known and active in pre-monotheistic ancient Israel and is transculturally transferred to Mary, Lady of all Nations.
In parts 1 and 2, numbers between round parentheses ( ) refer to the chapter in question. Numbers between square parentheses [ ] in part 1 and 2 refer to the illustration about which I write. At the end of the chapters in part I, the facts discovered are listed.
Maps. In the back of this book you will find up-to-date maps of the cultures discussed, along with the most important archaeological sites.
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