When Europeans Worshipped A Goddess

By Neenah Payne

Most Westerners, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, take the idea of “God, the Father” for granted. Michaelangelo depicted God as a man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However, Westerners did not always think that way. The videos below show that for at least 30,000 years, peaceful matriarchal European cultures worshipped the Goddess and lived in harmony with Nature. This article shows when and why that changed – and the implications for us today as we are engaged now in endless bankrupting wars that threaten humanity’s survival. See They Are Openly Admitting That We Are On The Brink Of “The Final War”. As we face the Sixth Extinction Event now, is there something life-saving we can learn from today’s matriarchal cultures?

Lithuanian anthropologist, archeologist Marija Gimbutas (1921–1994) was among the leading voices who restored the history of the Goddess. She was a professor of archaeology at UCLA who was internationally renowned for her study of the arrival of the Proto-Indo-European languages and cultures in Europe. She explained that what she called “Old Europe” was matriarchal and peaceful with a high level of civilization before it was overrun by the constantly-warring patriarchal cultures of Europe which she called “Kurgan” that dominate the world today.

The Goddess Timeline: 30,000 Years

Where Did Indo-Europeans Languages Come From? explains that the horse-ridding patriarchal tribes known as the Yamnaya spread the Indo-European language across vast areas. Wikipedia shows the spread of Yamnaya steppe pastoralist ancestry into two subcontinents—Europe and South Asia — from c. 3,000 to 1,500 BC. The Yamnaya or Late Ochre Grave culture of the late Neolithic and Bronze age on the Pontic steppe is believed to belong to one of several Proto-Indo-European speaking Western Steppe herder peoples who were ancestral to many modern peoples and who spread Indo-European languages across Eurasia.

Gimbutas called the Yamnaya “Kurgans”, the Russian name of the burial mounds they used. She believed that the warlike patriarchal God-worshipping Kurgans overran the peaceful matriarchal, Goddess-worshipping cultures of Old Europe which had existed for tens of thousands of years. Gimbutas pointed to Crete as an example of Old Europe which had no need of fortifications. She differed from other archeologists and anthropologists in that she included archaeo-mythology (linguistics, history, and folklore) in her methodology as well as archaeology to interpret the material.

See the 2010 book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.

Goddess Timeline 3/31/14

Images of women, in all stages of life, representing central roles in early culture, are precursors of the named goddesses in historical religions, with vestiges even in modern day Madonna figures. The Goddess Timeline traces goddess imagery back through 30,000 years of history and prehistory.

The Kurgan Invasion Ended Old Europe

The video below explains that Marija Gimbutas escaped Lithuania in World War II with her husband (an engineer) and two young daughters. She completed her education in Germany and settled in the Boston area. Gimbutas continued her professional career at Harvard University from 1950-1963.

The video describes the discrimination against Gimbutas there as a woman. For example, at Harvard  where Gimbutas taught courses and did research, she had only a desk in the basement of Peabody Museum. Harvard published her books and articles, but she had no title at the university or salary! There were several research libraries she was not allowed to enter. Since she did not have a faculty position, she was not allowed to join the University Club and could enter only if accompanied by a man. Since Gimbutas was fluent in many European languages, male colleagues often asked her to translate – which she did for free with no acknowledgement.

Lord Colin Renfrew explains in the video that what is new is the use of ancient DNA. He says the recent work of geneticist David Reich supports Gimbutas’ Kurgan theory. See the 8/22 article Telling Humanity’s Story through DNA: Geneticist David Reich rewrites the ancient human past.

Lord Colin Renfrew | Marija Redivia: DNA and Indo-European Origins 3/14/18

Presented by Lord Colin Renfrew, Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, former Disney Professor of Archaeology and Director of the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. Introductory comments by Dr. Audrius V. Plioplys.

This Marija Gimbutas Memorial Lecture was generously organized and sponsored by Drs. Audrius and Sigita Plioplys. Marija Rediviva: DNA and Indo-European Origins Marija Gimbutas had a detailed knowledge of the archaeology of prehistoric Europe and of the cultures of ‘Old Europe’ with their rich iconography of goddesses and gods, which she viewed as overwhelmed at the onset of the Bronze Age by the Kurgan invasion, an incursion of a new population from the East European steppe lands, north of the Black Sea.

This she saw as the key impetus which brought Old Europe to an end, and which introduced to Europe a new population speaking early Indo-European languages. The first Memorial Lecture will offer a critical review of the question of Indo-European language origins, and will highlight the contribution of one of the leading prehistorians of the twentieth century.

Gimbutas: “We Must Reinvent The Human Species Or Perish”

Marija Gimbutas: A Magnificent Vindication, a virtual Round Table on 11/2/21, celebrated  Marija Gimbutas as a 2021 UNESCO Centennial honoree. One of Gimbutas’ most original (and controversial) contributions — the Kurgan Hypothesis and the arrival into Europe of the Proto-Indo-European speakers around 3,500 BC — was recently validated by DNA.

Gimbutas says in the video below that we are now at the end of a 5,000-year period which James Joyce called “The Nightmare“. She says, “We must reinvent the human species or perish. We must re-examine history. We must start putting back some parts we have left out — namely, the Earth, the body, the Feminine, and the unconscious.”

Voice of the Goddess: Marija Gimbutas 5/13/15

A documentary about the world premiere of the Marija Gimbutas’ book, Civilization of the Goddess. Produced and directed by Lollie Ragana for Santa Monica City TV. An ecstatic evening with a euphoric crowd as Marjia delivers what she considers the best talk she ever game.

The documentary is supplemented by interviews with Starr Goode who produced the book event, and scholars and longtime colleagues of Marija—Gloria Orenstein and Miriam Robbins Dexter. Starr Goode, MA, teaches literature at Santa Monica College.

Four Aspects Of The Goddess

In the video below, Gimbutas explained that the Goddess had four aspects: Life Giver, Death Wielder, Regeneratrix, and Earth Fertility. Gimbutas said of the Goddess, “She is Nature. She is Cosmos. She is Everything.” Worship of a male god not only subjugated women, but dethroned Nature. It replaced respect for and collaboration with Nature with control of Nature to serve mankind as women were made to serve men. It facilitated a blind hubris and insatiable greed that has led to the Sixth Extinction Event today. That value system and worldview promotes competition and endless war. When men devalued Nature and women, they created a violent, warring, and destructive culture.

The Goddess In Art TV series: Interview with Marija Gimbutas (Part 1) 8/29/14

The Goddess In Art is a cable TV series that began in 1986 and ran until 1991. Dedicated to the Return of the Goddess, the series explored the legacy of this oldest tradition in art as well as feminist spirituality in contemporary art. The moderator, Starr Goode, interviewed scholars to uncover Her suppressed history and artists who were inspired by a radical re-imagining of the feminine.

One of the greatest scholars of the twentieth century, Marija Gimbutas through her work as an archeologist uncovered the symbolic language of the Goddess and provided a foundation for feminist spirituality. A conversation about the Neolithic Bird and Snake Goddesses and the egalitarian civilization of Old Europe.

Marija Gimbutas, www.opusarchives.org/gimbutas_overview.shtml Starr Goode, MA, teaches literature at Santa Monica College. She is producer and moderator for the cable TV series The Goddess in Art. An award-winning writer, she has been profiled for her work as a cultural commentator in such publications as the L.A. Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Yorker.

Her work on Sheela na gigs can be read in numerous journals and encyclopedias. Her latest book, Sheela na gig: the Dark Goddess of Sacred Power, won the 2018 Sarasvati Award for Best Non-Fiction Book presented by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. Her latest article, “The Icon of the Vulva, A Basis of Civilization,” has just been published in The Journal of Archaeomythology, Spring 2021.

Patriarchal Cultures Worship The Hero

In the video below, Gimbutas explained that patriarchal cultures worshipped heroes – especially the king. Ithaca on Fire: How the West’s Obsession With the Hero Has Led Us to the End of the World critiques the famous book The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (1904–1987).

The Goddess in Art TV Series: Interview with Marija Gimbutas (Part 2) 2/20/15

Ruth Tringham | Old Europe: House, Fire, the Goddess, and Ambiguity 12/2/21

Marija Gimbutas has always held a special place in Ruth Tringham’s life. A few times their paths crossed, but mostly like ships passing in the night. In this talk, Tringham focuses on an earlier pre-Indo-European Neolithic population located in southeast Europe and Anatolia, an area Marija Gimbutas referred to as Old Europe, whose prehistoric culture believed in a nurturing “Goddess” in her various forms and manifestations.  Join us as Tringham draws our attention to aspects of Old Europe that played only a small role in Marija Gimbutas’ narrative—house, clay, fire, and the intimate view—while asking the question of how we feel about the level of certainty we attribute to these narratives based in archaeology.

The Kurgan Culture and the Indo-Europeanization of Europe 1/1/97

Amazon Description

Fifteen articles, 30 Maps, 102 Figures and 40 Tables make up this essential collection of papers by the famed Lithuanian-born Harvard and UCLA archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas. In the introduction, Dr. Gimbutas describes her 40-year commitment to establishing the origins of Indo-European speech and seminal culture, which she named the Kurgan Culture after the distinctive burial mounds.

This unique collation showcases Gimbutas’ epoch-making contributions to Indo-European studies and the archaeology of Europe. First is her comprehensive evidence that the geographical “homeland” of Indo-European was neither Central Europe nor Anatolia, but the steppelands of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. She details the westward migration of a warlike, horse-riding, pastoral, patriarchal peoples, beginning in the mid-4th millennium, bringing with them early I-E speech and a pantheon of sky-gods.

Her presentation, originally based only on archaeology and carbon-14 dating, has since been proven by DNA analysis of skeletal remains. Secondly, these papers offer her extensive and colorful account of the earlier agricultural, matriarchal civilization of what she called “Old Europe” which the warlike patriarchal invaders overran. Gimbutas particularly highlights the striking contrast between the culture of the earlier population’s chthonic goddess religion and that of the Indo-European conquerors’ male sky-gods ‒ a clarification which made her become something of a heroine amongst history-oriented feminists.

Dr. Gimbutas was the prime founder and co-editor of The Journal of Indo-European Studies. Today, the journal is edited by another pre-eminent Indo-Europeanist, James Mallory, one of her former star doctoral students himself.

The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe

Presenting a classic illumination of Neolithic goddess-centered culture, this text provides a picture of a complex world, offering evidence of the matriarchal roots of civilization.

Books by Marija Gimbutas

Goddess Remembered 5/13/15

This documentary is a salute to 35,000 years of the goddess-worshipping religions of the ancient past. The film features Merlin Stone, Carol Christ, Luisah Teish, and Jean Bolen, all of whom link the loss of goddess-centric societies with today’s environmental crisis. This is the first part of a 3-part series that includes The Burning Times and Full Circle.

The Stories That Misled The West

The Strange Garden of Eden Story contrasts the story of the Garden of Eden which left the West feeling alienated from the Earth and the Native American foundational story of Skywoman Falling. Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants begins with the story of Skywoman Falling which shows humanity welcomed by and rescued by the animals and plants of the Earth.

The book contrasts that story with the Garden of Eden story and says:

On one side of the world were people whose relationship with the living world was shaped by Skywoman, who created a garden for the well-being of all. On the other side was another woman with a garden and a tree. But for tasting its fruit, she was banished from the garden and the gates clanged shut behind her. That mother of women was made to wander in the wilderness and earn her bread by the sweat of her brow, not by filling her mouth with the sweet juicy fruits that bend the branches low. In order to eat, she was instructed to subdue the wilderness into which she was cast.

Same species, same earth, different stories. Like Creation stories everywhere, cosmologies are a source of identity and orientation to the world. They tell us who we are. We are inevitably shaped by them no matter how distant they may be from our consciousness. One story leads to the generous embrace of the living world, the other to banishment. One woman is our ancestral gardener, a cocreator of the good green world that would be the home of her descendants. The other was an exile, just passing through an alien world on a rough road to her real home in heaven.

The book adds:

And then they met — the offspring of Skywoman and the children of Eve — and the land around us bears the scars of that meeting, the echoes of our stories. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I can only imagine the conversation between Eve and Skywoman: ‘Sister, you got the short end of the stick.’….

Look at the legacy of poor Eve’s exile from Eden: the land shows the bruises of an abusive relationship. It’s not just the land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land. As Gary Nabhan has written, we can’t meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without ‘re-story-ation’. In other worlds our relationship with land cannot heal until we hear its stories. But who will tell them? In the Western tradition, there is a recognized hierarchy of being with, of course, the human being on top — the pinnacle of evolution, the darling of Creation — and the plants at the bottom. But in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as ‘the younger brothers of Creation.’

The Garden of Eden story left Westerners with no sense of responsibility for the Mother Nature. We are told that the Garden of Eden story describes the origin of humanity. However, it is a Biblical story that is not even the Foundation Story of indigenous Europeans like the Sami who live in Scandinavia. Why We Celebrate Christmas The Indigenous Way shows that the Sami live much like Native Americans.

Native Americans believe they were born into the Garden of Eden and were given The Original Instructions that spelled out their responsibilities for maintaining it for the next seven generations. See Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future.

A White Male God and White Adam

John Trudell, Sioux head of the American Indian Movement, explained that Native Americans do not conceive of the Creator as a human being. However, because Christianity portrays God as human, that makes Westerners believe human beings are superior to the rest of creation. Therefore, Westerners have been raised to believe that animals, plants, rivers, mountains, etc. have no rights — that the world exists for humanity to exploit and humanity has no responsibility for the Earth or its creatures.

Christianity, a patriarchal religion, portrays God as a man. Women were deprived of rights and the Catholic Church reportedly tortured and killed 6-9 million women during the 600 years of the Inquisition. In the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo painted God and Adam as White. This is despite the fact that Adam represents the first man and humanity was born in Africa. This depiction was the foundation of The Myth of White Supremacy. These stories bred Western arrogance and contempt for the world. They gave Whites a false sense of superiority and the belief that the world exists to serve them.

These concepts have been played out in a 500-year assault on the Earth in the irrational expectation of unlimited growth on a finite planet. Because Christianity depicts God as a White man, it makes Westerners believe other peoples are not really human and therefore have no rights, even the right to their land, freedom, and life.

Responses To Pope’s Repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery  explains the Catholic Church issued edits in the 15th century that proclaimed Europeans had the “Manifest Destiny” to enslave Africans, steal the Westerner hemisphere and Australia, and commit genocide in all three continents. The US Supreme Court has used the Doctrine of Discovery as the basis for land claims as recently as 2005.

Which Path Will You Choose in 2023? explains that the Western worldview created an existential loneliness that fueled the Mass Formation (psychosis) and totalitarianism during the COVID era. See  Mass Formation Psychosis – 5 Things You Need to Know! This worldview is now driving the arrogance of The Great Reset in which the World Economic Forum warns “You will own nothing by 2030” and the Fourth Industrial Revolution which threatens to enslave humanity in a merger with Artificial Intelligence. WEF Declares ‘Humans Are a Plague’ and ‘AI Is the Cure’. It is only in recognizing now the mistaken stories of the West that it will be possible to get back to the healing concepts that can help us now.

Indigenous Cultures Best Preserve Biodiversity

Science Daily reports in Biodiversity highest on Indigenous-managed lands:

More than one million plant and animal species worldwide are facing extinction, according to a recent United Nations report. Now, a new study suggests that Indigenous-managed lands may play a critical role in helping species survive.”

Land Managed By Indigenous Peoples Have The Greatest Levels Of Biodiversity says: “Lands managed by indigenous people possess the greatest levels of biodiversity. This is according to a study led by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and published in the journal Environmental Science & Policy.

The team compared levels of biodiversity in 15,621 areas across three of the largest countries in the world – Australia, Brazil, and Canada. The size of the area did not appear to have much of an impact on species diversity. Neither did geographical location. Instead, what seemed to have the biggest influence on biodiversity was its management.

The results of the study show that land managed (or co-managed) by indigenous communities contained the highest levels of biodiversity. Protected areas (parks, wildlife reserves etc) came second, while those that were unprotected and selected at random came third.

“We looked at three countries with very different climates and species, to see if the pattern held true across these different regions – and it did,” co-author Ryan Germain, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, said in a statement.

Importance of The Original Instructions

In the 2008 video below, actor Floyd Red Crow Westerman said Native Americans were told that they would see America come and go. He said, “In a sense, America is dying from within because they forgot the instructions on how to live on Earth”. He warned that people who do not know how to live spiritually on Earth likely will not make it. He explained that when Columbus came, that started the true First World War. By WWII, the indigenous population of the Americas had dropped from 60 million to 800,000! The Native American population in the US is currently 4.5 million.

Indigenous Native American Prophecy

Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future

Earth Medicines: Ancestral Wisdom, Healing Recipes, and Wellness Rituals from a Curandera

Missed Opportunity With Native America

Chief Oren Lyons is the Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee whose territory once encompassed most of New York, Pennsylvania, and part of Ohio as well as Ontario and Quebec in Canada. Also known as the Iroquois Confederacy, the Six Nations are the Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, and Tuscarora.

In 1987, the US Congress formally admitted that the Haudenosaunee system had inspired the US Constitution. However, the US Founding Fathers left out the key role of women! They were wise enough to learn some key concepts from the matriarchal cultures of this land, but were still too mired in patriarchy. The Haudenosaunee, a matriarchal culture in which women have considerable power, is the oldest living democracy and travels on its own passport.

However, instead of following the path of peace that the Haudenosaunee learned from The Peacemaker, the US has been in endless wars since its founding. America has spent $86 billion on the endless War on Terror and is now giving billions to the Ukraine in a war that could explode into a global conflagration. See They Are Openly Admitting That We Are On The Brink Of “The Final War”.

In the videos below, Chief Lyons discusses the power of women in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society.

Chief Oren Lyons ~ The Secret History Of The United States 7/19/21

It’s Time To Get Ready | Chief Oren Lyons (Faithkeeper Of The Wolf Clan) 8/19/21

For More Information

Native America’s Gifts To The World
Native Americans Are a “Keystone Species”
Why Your Definition of “Land” Matters So Much!
Native American Day: Learning The Way of Earth
Can Native America Transform The World Again?
How Reconciliation With Native America Can Save Us
Dr. David Suzuki’s Urgent Warnings To Humanity Now
The US Military Is Laying the Groundwork to Reinstitute the Draft
Putting Native America Back On The Map To Re-Discover Ourselves
Ithaca on Fire: How the West’s Obsession With the Hero Has Led Us to the End of the World

Top image credit: Old World Gods

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post

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