So one of the other things I've been up to lately is taking one of Max Dashú's online courses, this one called Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, part two (I missed part one). Today Max gave a web seminar (also called a 'webinar' for all you techno-kids out there) about megalithic statues of Europe, mostly western Europe if I'm remembering correctly, like in present-day Spain and Portugal. Especially, of course, the stones that are identifiably female.
Many of the stones have very similar faces: a highly stylized straight browline, a squarish or pointed nose depending from that, with two circles for eyes. And, in most cases, no mouth. Like this one, from neolithic Provence, dating to the end of the fourth millenium bce, though it's not technically a megalith, being just shy of a foot tall:
I scanned that in from Gimbutas's The Language of the Goddess (drawing by Patricia Reis); Gimbutas calls it a depiction of the Owl Goddess, a form of Death Goddess, as the owl is long associated with death and the night; Max was saying though that she thinks it more likely as representing the ancestors, the dead, because the dead don't speak. In fact she'd titled the lecture 'Grandmother Stones.' You can see some more of these type of stones here, at her site.
So I thought that interesting, not just in general but in the timing for me as well given yesterday's post, since as far as the rest of the course goes we're talking about Rome right now. So it got me thinking.
As you may have guessed from my last post, I've got some issues, shall we say, with the idea of the ancestors, at least the immediate ones, what with the rather dysfunctional upbringing and all. Also, though it is hard to explain succinctly, thanks (or no thanks) to said upbringing I have always felt like I am starting from scratch; I've always had the feeling that nothing I accomplish ever sticks. Like I said, it is hard to explain, and I suppose I should refer you yet again to Tetanus Burger where you might be able to get more of an idea as to why. And feeling like I'm always starting from scratch means it feels like I've never had anything to build on, which is what the idea of ancestors is all about, isn't it. That there is an unbroken line going back and back. That you are not the first. That you have something to build on, something that is yours, because it is your family, your blood.
So maybe I need to think of it a little more distantly, more abstractly. Fuck these few generations I can see; after all my line, because I am here, on this Earth, now, goes back and back and back. From what I know I am of British blood, by which I mean, of the isle of Britain: English, Scottish, Welsh. But before that there has to be continental Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon, and Teutonic in the middle of Europe, and whoever else was there first before the migrations and invasions and it is perfectly plausible and in fact likely that the ancestors of my ancestors were the ones raising stones like that.
So then I thought: this is basic, basic stuff. This is not about grandmother's apple pie recipe (or, rather, Depression-era chocolate cake made with bacon grease, gah); this is simply about living long enough to have a healthy child, and that child living long enough to do the same, and so on and on. And I thought: what would she be called then, this old, old ancestor? She would be called She-Who-Survived.
She-Who-Survived. That is a powerful name, a powerful idea, for a kid who was frankly neglected, whose survival was not exactly guaranteed. I mean I'm here, so I did, and I can't even say it was really touch-and-go, properly, but... We had no hot water growing up, because when the water heater broke my father couldn't be arsed to fix it, and due to the OCPD he wouldn't let anyone else fix it; and, because he was a miser he never let the heat get more than fifty-five degrees in the winter here, in New England. And trust me, your brain and your instincts do read being that cold all winter as a threat to survival. That's the kind of cold that sinks into your bones. It's the kind of cold that becomes the default state in winter; being warm is the exception, the brief foray into comfort. It always comes back to the cold in the bones.
So. She-Who-Survived. I think She might make the best kind of ally.