Echoes of Mesopotamia by Molly


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Echoes of Mesopotamia
small figures from ancient places
ancient times
and ancient faces
ancient words
and ancient wisdom
still flowing in my veins

Clay in my hands
clay in her hands
running on the rivers of time
spiraling in the mysteries of being
spinning in the eddies and ripples of eternity…

I have a strong emotional connection to ancient Paleolithic and Neolithic goddess sculptures. I do not find that I feel as personally connected to later goddess imagery, but very ancient figures call to something deep and powerful within me. I have a sculpture of the Goddess of Willendorf at a central point on my altar. Sometimes I hold her and wonder and muse about who carved the original. I almost feel a thread that reaches out and continues to connect us to that nearly lost past—all the culture and society and how very much we don’t know about early human history. There is such a solid power to these early figures and to me they speak of the numinous, non-personified, Great Goddess weaving her way throughout time and space.

What were they thinking? Those ancient women who transformed stone into potent and enduring images of the Goddess? Who January 2014 026crafted with their hands something that persisted for 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 years; images so compelling that they reach across time, space, and understanding to say hello. Who made them and what was she thinking? Who am I and what am I thinking? Perhaps it is encoded in the layers of our being. Carrying on a legacy. The next link in a chain that spans the centuries and that is beyond the reach of history.

During a women’s circle session of Rise Up and Call Her Name last year, we talked about our personal cultural histories and we began work on “sacred bundles” that we continued adding to throughout the year-long course. To my beginning bundle, I added photos of my ancestors, a fossilized stone shell (because the Earth itself represents the shared cultural history of us all), and one of my own Goddess sculptures, and then I tied the bundle with a Goddess of Willendorf necklace. I surprised myself by bursting into tears when I tried to explain the significance of my items, viscerally feeling the swift swirl of time and how those grandmothers and great-grandmothers in my pictures are now gone, but they were people, just like me. I also shared about the deep connection I feel to the land I live on and how my parents moved here in the 1970′s, so maybe this land in the Ozarks isn’t really where I “come from,” but that this is where my blood and roots belong anyway. I continued crying as I described how when I sculpt my little figures, I feel like I’m part of an unbroken chain that stretches back at least 35,000 years, from the person who carved the Willendorf Goddess, all the way down to me with my rocks and clay. Later that week, my dad said he needed to talk to me and he shared that actually in our family history it is really only he who “broke the chain” of being “from” this exact patch of the Earth, here in central Missouri. He shared that he was the only member of his side of the family in a long time who wasn’t born here and that, in truth, six generations of my family on my paternal side were born, lived, and died within a 25 mile radius of this very hillside that I find so meaningful now. He said that he felt like his blood called him back here and he left California as a young man to return to Missouri and raise his own children here because it called him so powerfully (I was born at home one mile from where I now live). So, he said, no wonder you feel like this is your cultural heritage and where you belong. Your lineage is right here, right where you like to be.

When I was taking a Goddess history class at Ocean Seminary College, I wrote the following about the common use of red ochre on Goddess figures:

As I saw the slideshow and reflected on goddess figures I have known and loved, I was suddenly struck by the realization that the walls of my home are, in a sense, colored with red ochre. We live in a straw bale house and the walls are plastered with an earthen plaster that includes the red Missouri “clay dirt” that is a primary feature of the Ozarks region in which I live. The clay is red because of iron oxide, which is how red ochre is also defined. I looked at the Goddess of Willendorf on my altar and at her rich reddish color that exactly matches the shade of the earth on my bedroom walls. No wonder I feel such a deep, personal connection to these ancient figures—quite literally, some part of me identifies Her with home!

Once when I shared a photo of some of my Goddess sculptures on Facebook, someone left a comment saying simply: Echoes of Mesopotamia. And, I said, exactly!

IMG_8465Goddesscraft.
Womancraft.
Lifecraft.
Who molds who?
Who sculpts who?
Is it just one beautiful dance
of exuberant co-creation?

Expansive memory,
silent witness,
inner wisdom,
embodied connection
solid space
all twisted together
in an incredible tapestry
of time
culture
power
and life.

Molly is a priestess, writer, birth educator, and activist who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. Molly and her husband are in the process of launching Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.

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Categories: Ancestors, Archaeology, Art, Earth-based spirituality, Foremothers, Goddess, Goddess Spirituality, Goddess Spirituality, Poetry, Spiritual Journey, Spirituality, Symbols, Women's Spirituality

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16 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing Molly, your poetry,words and beautiful art I really connected too.. Bright Brigid Blessings

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  2. So much inspiration for new life. Thank you for sharing, Molly. Your post is just what I need for this time.

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  3. Lovely–lovely blog, lovely poems, and wonderful little goddesses. I used to make little goddesses out of glow-in-the-dark Fimo (a sort of clay) that looked a bit like the Willendorf Mother. I was honored to give one to Marija Gimbutas. I still have a couple! Your work is grand. I hope you do lots more.

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    • For as much as I love the Willendorf Mother (I wear a ring with her always–it is my favorite), I’ve never been able to duplicate her myself in clay! It seems like I “should” be able to, because she speaks to me most powerfully. If I had to pick “a goddess,”: she’d be the one for me! I wish I would have included an additional photo, because my husband and I have collaborated recently to now cast my sculptures in pewter for jewelry. Very fun!

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  4. I too feel much more connected to the ancient images than as you say the more “personified” ones. Love your post. Did you change your name?

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    • Thanks, Carol!

      I’m a professor and I have recently had a string of mildly disturbing encounters with a difficult student that led me to switch to using my middle name instead of my last name. I realize the connection can still be made relatively easily, but my preference is that my FAR writings are not the first thing to show up in a google search for me. I’d rather my ratemyprofessors listing or something else less revealing came up first instead!

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  5. Thanks so much for this post, Molly — your ideas and images so beautiful and tactile. The goddess of Willendorf you mention was the first fertility figurine I was introduced to in art school, as a 19-year old college student, and I remember being stunned by that image. I was so young, and knew nothing of ancient art or anything like ancient female figurines. A wonderfully interesting fact, and that many people don’t realize, is that ancient neolithic pottery in most societies, was crafted by women in the homes where those pots were used. In Japan, for instance, all those gorgeous Jomon pots, with the flamboyant rims, were created by women, along with the “dogu” or fertility figurines of that time.

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  6. Archaeologists and anthropologists generally “concede” that women probably invented pottery–as the pots were used to cook and store food, and who cooks and stores food? But this “concession” is often never elaborated upon, therefore, we still think of men as potters and imagine men as the creators of works of art made with clay. Siggghhhhh In traditional Cretan pottery workshops today men throw the pots and women paint them. This suggests that women “may have been” or even “most likely were” the painters of ancient Cretan pottery. But who ever thinks this?

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Trackbacks

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