The Lady of Saint Serin by Sara Wright

I just learned about Jen Taylor who is a singer and songwriter and a woman who embraces the goddess. Her philosophical work focuses on re-wilding the body/mind – returning us to our source.

Jen Taylor writes:

“Statue-Menhirs are sandstone standing stones that were carved about 5000 years ago. They are also known as slabs or anthropomorphic steles (my italics). They are the earliest life-size representation of human beings known to date, appearing across Africa and Eurasia, engraved or carved in low-relief on both sides. Over 100 menhirs were found in the area of Southern Aveyron, France alone. 

Female statue-menhirs are some of our earliest monumental art, though omitted by most histories and archeological surveys. Referred to as Grandmother stones, the megaliths were all erected at specific locations, generally isolated, indicating a link to religious or funeral rites or perhaps to the worship of ancestors. The Lady of St-Sernin Aveyron was discovered in 1888 standing in a field. She typifies the recurrent cultural patterns of these statues: dotted eyes, elongated (pillar-like) nose, no mouth, but markings on the face, breasts, hands toward the center of the body, a belt, and around the neck, multiple ropes of necklaces with a Y amulet. We suffer a cultural amnesia as to the meanings of these ancient images. Reproducing them is a kind of meditation on their lost messages.”

I was so intrigued by this particular stone image that seemed so familiar (Gimbutas?) I looked it up only to be somewhat disappointed. The Lady of Serin is about 5000 years old and was first found in a field somewhere in France; she now resides in a museum in that country. Nearly 100 of these megaliths were found in the Monts de Lacaune in Southern Aveyron. Nothing is known of the people who lived in this region between 3000 BCE and 5000 BCE. What we do know is that they erected the first megaliths. The most famous of these statues is the Lady of Saint – Sernin.

 Some of the sources I consulted state that these menhirs were anthropomorphic images, the earliest representations of mankind known in Western Europe. I object to the word anthropomorphizing because it suggests that people are projecting human-like qualities onto these stone images that don’t belong there! Isn’t this a powerful way to dismiss the feminist goddess perspective? This was exactly what happened with Marija Gimbutas’s work on goddesses. Of course we know now that more and more research supports Gimbutas’s theses, but her work is still marginalized by the dominant culture. Use of the word mankind rather than humankind is also a give away. Patriarchy’s bias becomes obvious, at least to me. What follows is my own interpretation of this stone, and like Jen Taylor, I also ask the reader what s/he sees in this complex image. Taylor saw an owl… 

When I first looked at this compelling image I immediately ‘saw’ the three phases of the goddess/woman imaged in “Grandmother Stone”. From the ground up the first phase of female growth is sculpted with feet that penetrate the ground and strong legs, indicating a solid foundation is necessary for growth and development during the first phase of female life. The second phase depicts the mother goddess. This largest phase is separated from the ground or foundation by two horizontal lines, which might indicate the vaginal opening. With breasts and hands clasped inward towards her belly this second layer suggests that as goddess/woman she gives birth, nourishes children, her own life, and creatures of the earth. This mother goddess wears ornate necklaces perhaps an indication of her power and honored place in the world. Both the first and second layers seem very human – like to me – five toes, five fingers. However, the curved wishbone image in the center reminds me of other ancient figures of the goddess with outstretched arms. This “Y” symbol may suggest that the mother goddess is developing or creating space to hold the third and final image, her spiritual self – that of the bird goddess who is more than human. With penetrating eyes and a beak that hides her mouth (it’s hard to see the beak in this particular image but it’s there) this bird goddess also has clasped ‘hands’, but instead of the five toes, five fingers of the first two layers this third has four horizontal lines suggesting something different – perhaps talons or wings. The third aspect of the goddess/woman is the visionary, the one the one with eyes that see into the past and future, the women with wings. Together all three indicate the three life stages of women’s development through the goddess ending with Grandmother as visionary and ‘more than human’ wisdom figure.

What do you think?

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in nature

BIO: Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: Feminism, General

Tags: , , , ,

33 replies

  1. This is not the fault of the author, Sara Wright, who had no way of knowing this; but the person she is quoting from has lifted nearly the exact language, phrase by phrase, that I use to describe the lady of St Sernin in my video “Grandmother Stones of Megalithic Europe”: https://youtu.be/MGt3gqepeA0?t=900 (hopefully i’ve copied the relevant timecode but if not, it starts at about 15:10)

    My spoken text: “multiple ropes of necklaces, breasts, hands to the center of the body, a belt… the face, very simple dots… a pillar type of nose… horizontal lines which I think are tattoos… recurrent… cultural pattern…Y- pendant… amulet”

    Jen Taylor” “dotted eyes, elongated (pillar-like) nose, no mouth, but markings on the face, breasts, hands toward the center of the body, a belt, and around the neck, multiple ropes of necklaces with a Y amulet.”

    I also point out the absence of a mouth on the majority of these statue menhirs in this talk (and in Part II, which overlaps a bit, and repeats the same phrasing), and in all other versions I’ve presented. I also discuss these patterns in my 2005 article “Icons of the Matrix”: https://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/iconsmatrix.html

    I would not mind if JT had credited my work instead of simply plagiarizing it. It is not right to pass off the words of another woman, written or oral, as her own, instead of giving credit to her. I have been teaching this material, using these phrases, for decades. I offered it open access on youtube because of its importance.

    It is hard to see my language and careful descriptions appropriated in this way. I’m aware of the tendency in Western Civ to value contributions more if they appear in books, but the Goddess community, more than most others, should respect knowledge presented in the oral tradition.

    THe video recording of my 2015 presentation of Grandmother Stones of Ancient Europe can be seen in three parts on my youtube channel:
    Part I: https://youtu.be/MGt3gqepeA0
    Part II: https://youtu.be/K-fBBHPV764
    Part III: https://youtu.be/3sTII3PMAVc

    These videos show the Grandmother of St-Sernin within her larger context within southern Fance, and compare these statue-menhirs with others in Guernsey, the Marne region, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Max, my friend, I have been saying for years and years (as long as we’ve known each other) that you know more about the Goddess and goddesses than anyone else living on the planet. Many thanks for this post, which tells us more about the Grandmother of St-Sermin. Bright blessings! I hope you’re well and happy and safe. I miss the days when you came to SoCal and stayed with me and we had endless conversations.

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    • MAX I downloaded your article to read and couldn’t because I cannot make the type large enough for these old eyes to read – I am so disappointed.

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      • You should be able to increase the size on the pdf. On my Mac, in Preview, I can hit Command + and it will go up to whatever magnification you want. There’s also a way to set it as a percentage. 100% is ordinary, but you can go to 250% or higher. May work differently on PC, i don’t know about that.

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    • For anyone interested in this Lady please see these videos – they are wonderful – inspiring – and oh such research. Thank you Max!

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    • I am going through them again – these are utterly captivating – below Max it says subscribe but I can’t seem to…. I would love to be a regular participant if you do more of these videos… tonight it is the necklaces that get me all I can think of is today’s’ Native American women who on ceremonial days wear so much sliver and turquoise that I shudder for their necks…

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  2. Wow what a circle this is. I am so sorry your were plagiarized Max and that we here at FAR didn’t know. Sara, thank you for own interpretation. Your thoughts are always meaningful. How can we fix this?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, my goodness Max, and Janet too – I am so sorry that I unwittingly contributed to this deception and betrayal – all I can do is to ask for your forgiveness…

    The whole point of bringing Jen Taylor into the picture was to provide CONTEXT for an original personal interpretation of my own, one not based on any other person’s work but only on what I saw in this astonishing image. I am an image based writer and submitted this piece spontaneously within a day of seeing the image.

    I do think it is a useful exercise to ask others who aren’t familiar with your research Max to see what they see…

    I do have an opinion about the beak – any beak hides a mouth does it not?

    Janet, if you want to take this whole thing down I am fine with it. I don’t know what else to do.

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    • Max, I am Muslim not a Goddess community member but I’m on your Facebook page and appreciate your research. Maybe you could cover these issues in FAR . A woman oriented perspective on the past and certainly these incredible archeological gems would be welcomed at least by myself.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Jammyali. Yes, I plan to resume writing for FAR once I get my book finished. Been away too long but my workload has been heavy, what with my online course and reconfiguring the Suppressed Histories Archives website, which will start rolling out in a month or two.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sara, as I said, this is not your fault, and in fact what you did was precisely to provide credit with the information you had. You did not know; how could you? Same goes for FAR.

      I certainly don’t think the post should be taken down, since my comments here stand as a correction of the record. And provide a way for women to access my research on the Grandmother Stones.

      So let it be.

      peace,
      Max

      Liked by 2 people

      • And to be clear, I am fully in favor of anyone commenting on the iconography. That’s a good thing! My objection was only to having my interpretations drawing on years of research, and the specific language I use, lifted and not acknowledged. I don’t think the person who did that is aware; maybe she copied down my words and didn’t even remember where they came from.

        I just wanted to set the record straight and make readers here aware of my work on this subject.

        Blessings,
        Max

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Max for a second clarification regarding my intent. I did not know.

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  4. A small note on the four lines on her face: I met Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim) several times. She was leader of the Takelma tribe here in southern Oregon, and one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. She had a tattoo of four lines on her chin, from her lower lip to the lower side of her chin. I once asked her what those four lines meant. She either didn’t know, couldn’t tell me, or declined to tell a non-native what they meant. I felt then, and still feel, that they had a meaning. I wish I could again beg an answer, but she passed away about a decade ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the chin lines are very widespread in north California and into Oregon, and in fact are found all the way into Alaska and around the Pacific Rim, including the Māori. Also they turn up among Bedouins and Druze and other peoples.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Any idea what they might mean? It would seem that the four directions would be better represented by a cross, and air-fire-water-earth would beg a different type of symbol. What else might be that universal?

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        • From my observation, it is more common for there to be three lines, which is why in north California they were sometimes called “111s”. I don’t know what they signify, and it might be different things in different places. But it appears the tattoos were often part of womanhood initiation ceremonies.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Very very interesting – different tribes use these symbols in different ways – I would love to have known what your friend had to say.

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  5. I am also struck by the idea the lines might suggest four claw marks? Bears, (both black and grizzly) are considered to be powerful healers on this continent anyway.

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  6. YES!!! Multivalent is the way of the goddess is it not?

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  7. WOW! What an interesting circle! I have another possible interpretation of the 3 horizontal lines. In shamanic terms, it could mean the 3 planes of reality: the under world, the middle world and the upper world.

    Liked by 1 person

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