Spinning the Wheel of Ana: A Spiritual Quest to Find the Primal British Ancestors
Archaeology, Ancestors and the Stars
“Straight to the horizon the wooden track lay across the flat Summerland marshes. Tall reeds rose on either side, hiding pelicans, swans, ducks and other wild creatures. The deeper waters teemed with fish.
There was a scuffling sound in the undergrowth of the marsh. Whispering the call to the soul, my mother swiftly raised her arm and threw the spear. As we heard the death squeal of the wild pig Mara gave a shrill cry, signalling the moment of transition to ease the creature’s passage into the Otherland.
Making sure the kill was clean Mara turned to the north east and the Mound where Madron was honoured. Touching her heart she gave the gesture of respect across the waters towards the wooded slopes of the hill. Once more the Lady had given of Her bounty.”
The findings of archaeology provide us with information about two kinds of Ancestors. Firstly they tell us something about the ancient peoples who long ago lived in the British Isles – what they looked like, how they lived, what they ate, what they wore, etc. It is these people who are our far blood relations and Tribal and Totem Family Ancestors. Secondly, the study of the remains of the earliest earth and stone monuments, of the ancient long barrows and burial mounds, of stone circles and megaliths, of artefacts and their decoration, both in Britain and Europe, give us clues to the cosmology and beliefs of our early forebears about their ancestors – the First Ancestors of the British Isles.
For there is little doubt that the early Britons revered their Ancestors. Long ago in the neolithic age from 4,500 BCE onwards large Houses of the Dead were erected all over the British Isles, from the north of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall, from western Ireland to the marshlands of East Anglia. Here the special dead were buried with ceremony in chambers made of wood or/and stone and covered in long or round barrows and mounds of earth. Skulls and part or whole human and animal skeletons and horns, were placed beneath these sites or within them in ways that suggest they were not just burials of bodies, but part of a wider vision of the interconnectedness of death and life. These burial sites were an integral part of a ritual landscape that later included standing stones and stone circles, in which the relationship between the elements of earth, water, fire and air; between the earth and the stars, the living and the dead, the womb and the tomb were known and honoured. Most of this knowledge we have lost.
The history of the world is long and the life of modern human beings is relatively short. The palaeolithic and mesolithic eras range over three and a half million years from the appearance of the first human creatures in central Africa until approximately 10,000 BCE. This long slow development of animal and human life on earth was marked by certain apparent leaps in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual consciousness, which have allowed us to evolve to our present condition. These leaps were part of a long slow process of gradual change that only in hindsight look like sudden developments. The path of evolution encompassed the appearance and disappearance from the earth of many species, including the dinosaurs, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon humans and homo sapiens our human progenitors.
Significant cultural advances in the palaeolithic era included the developing use of tools for all aspects of human life, of containers for food and liquids, the development of the skilled craft of flint-knapping to make knives used in many activities, and for arrowheads and spears for hunting. The discovery of the secret of keeping fire alive for warmth and cooking was a vital early step, as was the building of shelters and the important development of language.
In this book we shall take only a cursory glance at aspects of human life in the palaeolithic era which form the context out of which present day human beings have evolved. Our main concern is with the cultural developments which took place in Britain when it became an island or islands from c. 9,000 BCE onwards. It was then that the last Ice Age ended and Britain was completely separated from the mainland of Europe by the sea.
Our search is for the first Tribal Ancestors who lived in and migrated to the Isles of Britain and their beliefs about their Ancestors. As part of this search I shall attempt to correlate some of the apparent catalytic ‘leaps forward’ for humankind recorded by archaeology with known astrological, astronomical and mythical events.
“We are born from the dust of the stars
Beings of matter, energy, life-fire and light….“
I am suggesting like others before me, that there are things which happen on our planet which are either synchronous with or caused by extraterrestrial influences from other places in our Universe. For while we are creatures of the earth, organic life-forms of the matter of the stars, we are also beings of energy, fire and light. We are all susceptible to influence both physical and spiritual. We are changed through contact with external energies as well as developing from within our own inherent capacities.
Many of these synchronous events occurred before there were words to describe them, and before astronomy and astrology had developed to name them. The heavenly bodies and the planets have been moving in their ordered cycles throughout the aeons whether we were here to name them or not. However the naming or discovery of new planets or stars always marks the entrance of new physical and psychic patterns into human consciousness and culture. For example, the discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781 by Herschel with its television aerial symbol heralded the beginning of the radiation age. The more recent discovery of Chiron, planet of the wounded healer in 1977, coincided with the beginning of an upsurge of interest in holistic and alternative healing methods.
Throughout the millennia human beings have gazed in wonder at the stars in the night-time sky, seeking meaning in their multitudes and movements. For several thousand years both astrology and astronomy have been highly regarded in many cultures which have viewed their integrated study as a vital key to understanding both our own world and the energies which play upon us. In the past, beliefs about the stars were part of a cosmic world view which encompassed the Creation of all life in our universe. In the present astronomers and astrophysicists also seek the origins of the universe and the meaning of life, energy and matter, in terms that are not so different from those of our foremothers and fathers.
Today’s astrological interpretations of the movements of heavenly bodies describe the synchronous influence on human beings of different qualities of energy, which are exemplified by the ten planets and other bodies such as asteroids, so far discovered in our own solar system. The energy of these planets is modified as they move against the background of twelve constellations or signs of the Zodiac, which mark the cycle of the solar year. In other cultures and at other times different numbers of planets and constellations – 7, 9, 13 and 14, have been recognised.
Present day astrology emphasises the influences of the planets on the psychological make-up of human beings. In the past horary astrology was much more concerned with accurately predicting events, such as the deaths of kings, the timing of marriages, wars, treaties, etc. For the Babylonians of the second millennium BCE who left some of the earliest astrological records on stone tablets, the planets were named after or by the goddesses and gods of their world.
Astrology has long played a key role in the decisions of rulers and nations, and importantly in the timing of ceremonies. It still does today in many far eastern and third world countries, although in the western world its role is derided and often hidden from the public eye. Even US President Reagan decided the most auspicious dates for international meetings with the help of an astrologer.
In addition the astrologer/astronomers of the ancient world from Babylonia to South America to China were not confined to the influence of the planets of our own solar system or the twelve zodiacal constellations. They were also aware of the influence of the fixed stars. These are the stars which are so far away from the earth that while actually moving at great speed they appear to us to be held in stationary shapes. It is these stars which we see moving as unchanging patterns in the blue-black night-time sky.
The ancient neolithic people knew themselves to be directly influenced by both the fixed star and planetary energies. They aligned their sacred sites, mounds and stone circles to the rising, culmination (highest point in the sky) and setting of the Moon, Sun and Venus; and to the more distant stars, such as the Great Bear, Orion, Sirius and the Pleiades. There is still much controversy amongst archaeologists as to how true particular alignments are, but one has only to be at ancient sites under the clear night-time sky to realise the significance of their positioning.
Throughout history the influences which play upon human beings have been perceived in many different terms. They are described as both physical and non-physical energies; as three, five, seven, nine or more cosmic rays or impulses; as telepathic, mental and spiritual influences; or as the arrival on earth of beings from inner and outer space extraterrestrials, star beings, goddesses, gods, dakinis, dakas, rishis or primal and cosmic ancestors. Whatever they are called or whoever they are, their appearance in physical or psychic form coincides with changes in the lives of human beings on the Earth. They are part of a much greater pattern which we do not see from our limited perspective. Their arrival may be synchronous with or actually causal to those changes. We may never know which, but either way the relationship is interesting.
I know that this is difficult ground to tread and mental resistance can be high, but which comes first an original, inspired (from where?) idea from a human being, who is later honoured as a famous ancestor, or a goddess or god; or the arrival on earth from elsewhere of a cosmic impulse or a space being, or an actual goddess, god or ancestor, who brings new knowledge to give to human beings?
The realm of the Ancestors is not just physical. It is also mythic, reflecting the underlying archetypal patterning of the universe. It is not simply a question of who were the first ancestral people to live in Britain, although this is important. It is much more than this. The Ancestors connect us to the stars and the energy, matter and patterning of the universe. The stories of the Ancestors describe aspects of the fundamental matrices of life. Through communication the Ancestors can give us access, if they so choose, to the wisdom of the ages.
In order to fully explore the nature and teaching of our British Ancestors we must tread a fine line of courage, truth and discrimination. I don’t claim that all the suggestions I shall make are ‘right’, but they are a beginning to the process of merging spiritual and material knowledge, to reclaiming the teaching of our Ancestors.
TRIBAL ANCESTORS IN THE PALAEOLITHIC ERA
In her book, Women in Prehistory, Margaret Ehrenberg (British Museum) argues the case for a different vision of the roles of women and men in prehistory. I have found it gives a more balanced, commonsense evaluation of the lives of our forebears to that usually presented. She examines the findings of archaeology, anthropology and relevant animal studies concerning the relative status and importance of women and men in the palaeolithic and neolithic eras. I shall apply some of her conclusions to this quest for our Tribal Ancestors.
Margaret’s research suggests that in palaeolithic and mesolithic times, societies were essentially matrifocal (mother-centred), foraging and nomadic. Like present day nomads, people travelled in small family groups migrating with the seasons like the birds and the animals and foraging for accessible sources of food. For these early people the most important activities were concerned with survival, with having enough food to eat and physical and spiritual protection for children and adults from the elements, from disease and other hostile animals.
Margaret Ehrenberg’s work shows that in these early times, as is still the case in much of the Third World today, (Women In the World by Joni Seager and Ann Olson, Pan 1986) women provided the bulk of the daily diet for the family, tribe or clan. They spent most of their days foraging for food seeds, fruit, underground roots, tubers, etc., and small animals or the remains of prey killed by wild animals. Women had children selectively, usually once every three or four years after the youngest one had stopped breast-feeding. In a nomadic lifestyle only one child can be carried at a time, leaving the hands free to gather food and do other work. In these early days women, through their magical ability to recreate life within their own bodies, and through their work of food-gathering, were highly valued. This was particularly so where food was shared and exchanged within the society.
There was a relatively small amount of hunting carried out by men and also women, which depended on the gradual development of adequate spears, bows, arrows and knives. Meat was a smaller part of the diet for the earliest humans. Animals, which could be friendly or deadly, were revered as divine spirits and magical totems, who roamed through the bounteous forests of the Great Mother.
THE GREAT MOTHER/PRIMAL ANCESTOR
The Creatrix of our world is the Mother Goddess of Birth, Nature and Death, whose mythical name is the first Sound on the outward hu man breath – Aaaaa. In time She became known as Aaaaa. . .na, Ana, Anu, Anna, Amma, An and Ann. She is the Great Grand Mother Ancestor of us all, who gave birth from Her cosmic Womb to a daughter – Planet Earth and to the Primal Ancestors – the great energy beings who underlie the natural elements and the forces of nature.
They are the beings who helped create the world in which we live. They filled the oceans with water, pushed apart the separating continents, created the endless sky, the heaving mountains, the rivers, the plants and the animals. They are still here and are responsible for the continuation of her world.
For the earth is our Mother and the outlines of her body could be seen in the ancient landscapes, uncluttered by the work of human hands. The hills were her breasts and ever-pregnant womb. The valleys were her secret places where from within dark recesses fresh waters sprang, flowing into streams and rivers that ran to the ocean. Her body was clothed in a rich green mantle of trees and vegetation. It rose and fell and rippled like a dragon’s back, sometimes spewing fire, or she lay coiled like a serpent, then grew large in the air like a giant. When she turned over in her sleep the earth shuddered and like slipping sheets the continents slowly separated.
The first images of the Creatrix so far found in Europe, dating from 35,000 years ago, show a rounded, fecund woman’s body honouring the fertile, birth-giving and nurturing qualities of the Great Mother. The well-known Venus of Willendorf is one example out of many. Her breasts and abdomen are full like those of a woman who has just given birth. The personal features of her face, hands and feet are missing, hidden or reduced in size. Other early figurines show the Mother with her hand on her large pregnant belly the Venus of Laussel, or the emphasised breasts, belly and buttocks of the Venus of Lespugue. As the Mother of Death She is stiff and white, carved from bone. (The Language of the Goddess by Maria Gimbutas, Thames and Hudson, 1990)
In later images from mesolithic and neolithic times this Primal Mother is frequently associated with or depicted as being part bird or animal as well as ancestral woman. She is the Bird Mother, Bear Mother, Lion Lady, Serpent Mother, Cow Mother, Deer Mother and Fish Goddess. She is the Lady of the Beasts. (See Lady of the Beasts by Buffie Johnson, Harper San Francisco, 1990)
DIVINE ANIMALS AND TOTEM SPIRITS
From early palaeolithic times there is evidence from all over the world for the worship of Totem Spirits and Divine Animals. Totems are the informing spirits of the natural elements, of nature in all its facets, and particularly of the animals and plants. Archaeological findings suggest that in particular the Lion, the Bear and the Elk were worshipped in many parts of the world as Divine Animals throughout much of the palaeolithic era.
Many of the beings and their images so far found are predominantly female. At the present time they are being reclaimed as divine antecedents by women and men researching into archaeology and ancient myth. They are taken as evidence for the presence and worship of the Goddess, the Divine Feminine, in many forms in ancient times. I would like to suggest that in addition to being evidence for the honouring and love of the Goddess, these forms are also evidence for the honouring of Totem Spirits and Ancestors, the divine feminine offspring of the Great Mother. As we begin to reclaim the Goddess in Britain, with her associated animals and elements we may also find our lost Totem Ancestors. (See later section on Ancestors, Goddesses and Gods)
In the western world through historical time the divine Totem Spirits of early days slowly became more humanised. Through time from being purely divine animals or birds they then became part-animal or bird and part-human/divine. Later these Totem Spirits came to be named and depicted in human form in the pantheons of goddesses and gods who are often shown in statues and wall paintings as being attended by the Totem animal or bird, which originally was integral to their nature. Their apotheosis in this form lies in the myths of the Greek and Roman pantheons in which immortal beings act as mortals with divine qualities and sometimes human failings.
THE GREAT BEAR MOTHER
A major cult of the Bear Mother has been traced from the earliest times throughout the colder northern hemisphere, from Finland to Siberia to North America. Ritually arranged skulls of herbivorous cave bears have been discovered in caves in France and in the German Alps, which date from the time of Neanderthal humans, at least 75,000 years ago. The Great She Bear, whose animal fur, skins and body gave warmth and food to the northern peoples was revered as an awesome Ancestor Mother of human beings. The Ainu of Japan, who are descendants of early Siberian migrations, still retain their veneration of the Bear in both legend and ritual. For Native Americans the Bear is one of the guardians of the Four Directions. (Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell, Penguin)
The Great She Bear also reigned in the heavens. She was named in the constellation of Ursa Major which cycled then as now, around the night-time skies of the northern hemisphere each year. In Altaic, Siberian and Tibetan mythology there was said to be a direct connection between Ursa Major and the Earth via a Universal Tree, which was rooted in the earth at Shambhala. Shambhala itself is a mythical realm which lies somewhere to the north of Tibet. It is believed to be a source of the ‘Ancient Wisdom’. (See ‘Dawn Behind the Dawn’ by Geoffrey Ashe, Henry Holt, 1992).
Dakinis and Dakas were female and male fiery ‘sky-goers’ who flew down to Shambhala from Ursa Major attracted by their human and animal counterparts – the original ankas (women shaman) of the Altai. They lit up the sky with the light from their own bodies and brought the secrets of fire to human beings. They appeared as pillars of fire by night and as clouds by day.
The earliest ankas and shamans of colder northern climes were able to physically fly through the air either on the back of a bird, on a branch of the Universal Tree (just like the European witches) on a drum or on a magical horse. They wore the skins of the Bear Mother to attract her presence. They flew up to the top of the Sacred Mountain and ascended through the branches of the Universal Tree to communicate with the dakinis and dakas who were the Great Bear Spirits. These Spirits later became known as the Seven Rishis of the Great Bear. Under the influence of patriarchal thinking these Spirits were seen to be male, but originally were predominantly female. In the coming age we may recognise them as both.
In ancient times this veneration of the Bear Mother was widespread throughout the northern hemisphere. She has continued to make her appearance with different names throughout time. One of her most well-known forms is that of Artemis-Callisto in the Greek pantheon. In Europe several ancient clans, including the Orsini or Ursini family, trace descent from the She Bear, carrying the bear on their coat of arms. Moscow’s coat of arms includes a bear who carries a double axe or labrys. In Britain, based on this early veneration of the Great She Bear, we find our own mythic hero-king Arthur, named from the Welsh Arth Vawr – Heavenly Bear. He was believed to be the son/lover/spouse of Artha, Artio, Ars, Ursa, Ursel – the Great She Bear.
THE GREAT LION
In other parts of the palaeolithic world in a tract of land running parallel to the Equator and including Africa, the probable birthplace of modern human beings, there is evidence for the worship of the Divine Lion, who had its heavenly counterpart in the constellation of Leo. Later the Lion Mother was worshipped in the early neolithic town of Catal Huyuk, now in present day Turkey, where many amazing archaeological remains have been found. A sculpture from 7,000 BCE shows a large seated Goddess accompanied by two large felines, giving birth to a baby from between Her legs. The Lion Mother also appeared in Krete as the Goddess accompanied by two large cats and in Egypt as the lion-headed Sekmet. The European Cybele, who was also the ancient Sun Goddess, is usually accompanied by two lionesses. The Lion Mother was equated with the power of the Sun to bring both life and scorching death.
Some of the many expressions of the royal Lady with Lions have been explored by Asphodel Long in her original book ‘In a Chariot drawn by Lions’, The Women’s Press, 1992. She equates the Lion Mother with Asherah, Ishtar, Anat, Elat and with Sophia, the Lady of Wisdom.
EUROPEAN DIVINE ANIMALS
In France there are wonderful palaeolithic cave paintings of bulls, cows, horses, cats, stags, bears, rhinoceros, auroch, mammoth and bison. The beautiful carving of the fecund Venus of Laussel from 20,000 BCE, holds a bison horn in her hand carved with 13 lunar notches. In the famous Lascaux caves there are richly painted and carved scenes dating from 15,000 BCE. They show all kinds of animals running across the underground walls. In one a shaman figure stands below them wearing a panther skin, a pair of horns and a bison’s hump. Many of these paintings are found in the deepest accessible parts of underground caves, indicating a belief that the Earth herself was seen to be the Mother of the animals.
As Britain was still joined to Europe during the mesolithic era, many wild animals also roamed here, including the elk, wolf, bear, boar, rhinoceros, cave lion, etc. However the climate in Britain at the time was inhospitable to human beings and there are as yet no known cave paintings in Britain. These creatures are remembered in the much later oral traditions of the Irish peoples, in the Welsh Mabinogion and Arthurian and other legends. Their power is revealed in the stories of the Bear Son Arthur and magical quests for Divine Animals, such as Wild Boars, the Salmon of Wisdom, etc.
It is from these early times that family groupings and tribes assumed their Totem Spirits and named themselves from amongst the elements in their surroundings the plants, animals, landscape features and natural phenomena. Family Clans were matrilineal with totem and clan spirits and names passing naturally from mother to children. Like the birds and animals, nomadic tribes followed the natural energy lines of the earth, the ley or song-lines that wove the web of creation across the surface of the earth. Like the First Australians on their migrations they sang the world alive.
It is from within this context that the cultural evolution of the neolithic era took place.
THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN AND NEOLITHIC EVOLUTION
Margaret Ehrenberg observes that since it was the women in these ancient times who daily foraged for food from the forests and seeds from the earth, it was almost certainly women who first cultivated wild varieties of large-lobed cereal grains. It must have been a woman or small group of women, Tribal Ancestors of the far past, who first realised, discovered or were given the secrets of the cultivation of grain. It must have been women who first intentionally sowed the wild seeds of barley, emmer and einkorn wheat, knowing that they could return in a few weeks to harvest the mature crops. The grain could then be stored and eaten or ground into flour throughout the leaner months of the year.
Some archaeologists suggest that this discovery took place after 10,000 BCE simultaneously in both the Fertile Crescent and Southeast Asia (Thailand, etc.). The Fertile Crescent is an area surrounding ancient Sumer and the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates, which includes modern day Turkey (Anatolia), Iraq, Iran, Syria and Israel (Jericho). The purposeful growing of large-seeded grain crops was a major step for humanity which slowly revolutionised the way that all human beings lived and was a catalyst to neolithic culture.
As grain crops could be sown in one place and later harvested for future use there was less need for a nomadic life style, which had to follow the seasonal availability of food. Nomadic peoples began to settle in one or more places and became horticulturists growing their own staple foods. Where they could they lived in caves or began to build permanent living structures – homes, storage places, granaries, etc., initially from wood, woven grasses and other organic materials and later from sun-baked mud and stone.
The knowledge of the secrets of the grain spread in a slow cultural wave outwards from the Fertile Crescent as people travelled east and west, through the Mediterranean countries and Europe and across the sea, eventually arriving in Britain, probably from Spain and France, probably around 7/6,000 BCE. All over Europe and the Near East human populations expanded rapidly. More children could be born as their mothers did not need to be constantly on the move. As women had more children they stayed home for longer and did not go hunting so often. Their work became more domestic, centred on the home, and as the evidence of arthritis in their skeletons shows, they spent long hours each day grinding grain by hand on smooth stone quorns. The daily grind had begun.
Human creativity grew rapidly as buildings became more permanent and there was no longer the need to carry all one’s possessions on one’s body. Some could be left at home. Also individuals and family groups could have more possessions. Areas of virgin forest were cut down for wood for fires and buildings, to make room to build settlements and to plant crops.
Women held the Secrets of the Grain because they had found them. They were the planters of seeds in memory of the Grain Ancestor she who had given/found the secret of the grain. Also since women bore the children only they were believed to have the magical fertile power necessary to give life to the grain and successfully sow the seeds in the earth. This is still a belief amongst some present day native tribes-people, such as the Kogi from South America.
By this time spears, arrows and hunting equipment had evolved sufficiently for hunters to be able to kill most kinds of animals, even the largest and fiercest. According to Margaret Ehrenberg meat now formed a greater part of the human diet. A few of the young animals which had been orphaned when the men hunted and killed their mothers, were kept near to the new homes and reared for their meat and skins. Dogs helped in the hunt and were among the first animals to be domesticated. Men claimed the Secrets of the Animals that had once belonged to both women and men. In this situation where both sexes contributed to the general wellbeing of the whole and both knew the Secrets of the Forest and Nature, women and men still had equal power and status.
THE GRAIN MOTHER/GODDESS/ANCESTOR
The Ancestor who first revealed or discovered the secret of the Grain is one of the earliest and most highly revered of the Ancient Ones. Throughout history and in nearly all cultures She has been depicted in a womanly form and worshipped as the Grain Maiden or Corn Mother under many names. Corn is the generic term used for the many varieties of grain wheat, barley, corn, etc. She is sometimes depicted carrying a single ear of wheat, the ‘spica’ or Virgin’s Spike in her left hand and a palm leaf or staff, in her right. Sometimes she has a sheaf of wheat or barley in her hand, on her lap or beside her. In the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Kore the secret revealed at the heart of the ceremony was an ear of corn. As image the Grain Mother represents the divine Ancestor or spiritual impulse which brought the secrets of the Grain to women on the Earth and also the First Woman who recognised and purposefully planted grain for harvesting.
Astrologically in the northern hemisphere at the height of the grain harvest the sun passes through the constellation of Virgo. Virgo is variously presented as the Wheat-Bearing Maiden or Virgin, as Kore and Her mother Demeter or Ceres. In Britain she is the Goddess Ker, with her daughter the Kernababy or Kernel of the wheat and her mother Keridwen. (See The Ancient British Goddess by Kathy Jones, Ariadne Publications, 1991). Britannia, the Warrior Matron of Britain, with her shield and helmet also carries stalks of grain. She is the Saxon Epona who holds a sheaf of wheat in her lap.
She is the Native American Corn Maiden or Corn Mother who in some tribal traditions is said to have created human beings. She is the Roman Astreae, daughter of Themis, who was said to be the last of the celestial beings to leave the earth in approximately 3,500 BCE, with the last of the Silver people. (The Greek Myths by Robert Graves, Pelican). Her credentials are ancient. She is the Egyptian Isis, with wheat ears in Her hand, which She later dropped to form the Milky Way. She is also Kannae, the mother of Krishna. In the Euphratean cycle of ecliptic constellations She is called Siru or Shim, perhaps meaning ‘ear of corn’. (Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning by RH Allen, Dover)
The Grain Ancestor is connected to Sirius, the brightest star in our heavens. The culmination of Sirius at midnight was celebrated in the great temple of Ceres at Eleusis. It is thought to have marked the beginning of the mystery ceremony. For the Dogon people of Mali ‘ti polo’, the hidden dark partner to Sirius the Dog Star, is known as the ‘seed star’ of the universe, from which all things are created.
Linking all these details of myth, astrology, astronomy and archaeology is the red thread of meaning and revelation a direct impulse of energy or a Star Being in the form of the Grain Ancestor/ Goddess, who came to Earth from Sirius via the constellation of Virgo. This Ancestor spoke directly as intuition or in the form of the Corn Mother herself, to the women who found the wild barley and wheat and purposefully planted it in the earth. The discovery of the secret of the grain changed how human beings lived on the earth and was remembered in reverence for the Ancestor, who was called Ker or Ceres, the Mother of the Grain or by a host of other names in other cultures.
According to archaeological theories developed thus far, the secrets of cultivating grains were discovered circa 10,000 BCE. I would suggest that in fact the secrets were given out in more than one age – that they were first given around 15,000 BCE, coinciding with the astronomical Age of Virgo. Grindstones and grinders dating from this time have been found in Egypt, indicating an early knowledge of obtaining flour and plant foods from cereal grains. There is some evidence of grain cultivation on the Nile plains from this time.
This was during the mesolithic era or Middle Stone Age and the time of the great cave paintings of Western Europe. There is also evidence at that time of a settled lifestyle in small dwellings and caves in central France, which can still be visited. This would suggest that the first communication from Sirius via Virgo, literal or metaphysical, had anchored earlier in 15,000 BCE, probably in the region of Egypt and north-east Africa, diffusing northwards to Europe and the Middle East and over thousands of years to other parts of the world.
Astronomy/astrology itself is a sophisticated form of encoded myth, the constellations and astrological ages being named long ago. Who can now tell whether they were actually named after important Ancestors or whether the Ancestors in each age incarnated as psyches attuned to the appropriate informing energies of the age itself? Both are probably true.
According to Native American tradition the secrets of their parallel staple food – corn or maize, have been given out in each of the four worlds that have so far existed from the beginning of time to help the people of the earth to feed ourselves. In each world we have failed to honour this gift.
THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS
According to the archaeologists the first animal to be domesticated was probably the dog. Cave paintings from Çatal Hüyûk from 6,000 BCE show a dog helping in the hunt. Men hunted animals for their meat and skins, going off together into the great forests that covered much of the British Isles. As their weapons improved they could kill larger species, eating some of the meat and drying and storing products from their bodies. These hunting parties were spiritual as well as physical adventures, later mythologised in British legends.
Young animals were not usually killed but were sometimes taken to be reared at home. This led to the domestication of animals who were tended and herded at first by both sexes and later mainly by men (Women in Prehistory by M. Ehrenberg). Along with keeping animals for their meat came the secondary products they supplied, such as milk for drinking, wool, hair and skins for clothing and dwellings.
THE COW MOTHER
It is suggested by archaeologists that it was not until after approximately 4,500 BCE that cows, goats and sheep were kept for their milk. The milking of animals was another step forward in the development of human life, providing more easily available protein in liquid and solid forms. (Margaret Ehrenberg)
The Divine Ancestor was envisioned as the Sacred Cow, whose spraying milk formed the stars of the Milky Way. In Britain she is seen in the form of the Cow Mother Brigit, as Modron and later as the three Dea Matronae imported with the Romans. In Egypt she was Hathor. In India she was Kali-ma. She was the Norse Freya. In Krete her cow horns were visible in all the palaces. The major developments of the neolithic era in Britain took place in what is known astrologically as the Age of Taurus the horned Cow/Bull. In other lands she was the Ox, Bison or White Buffalo.
Between 5000 and 3000 BCE along with the domestication of animals came the development of carding, spinning, weaving and sewing of the hair and wool of animals and fibres of plants. The cycle of the Weaver through the year is preserved in Britain in the qualities assigned to ancient British Ancestors. The Weaver of plant and animal material was an expression of the Weaver of the Web of Life, known in other traditions as Spider Woman or Grandmother Spider. This theme will be more fully developed in the section on the ancient British Ancestor/Goddess/Gods.
Another important element was the late neolithic invention of the mechanical plough. Soil had been tilled from the beginning of the neolithic using antlers and the horns or shoulder blades of larger animals. The invention of the plough drawn by humans or oxen allowed larger areas to be cultivated more easily. In all ancient pictographs the plough is shown as being controlled by men. It is in this technological development of agriculture and also animal husbandry that men for the first time in history begin to dominate in the production of food, giving them more importance than the continuing women’s role of gathering food.
Margaret Ehrenberg argues that it was the ownership of the plough and the other equipment of the farm, which brought the beginning of the takeover by patriarchal power from earlier matrilineal and matrifocal groupings of neolithic society. Once there was ownership of individual property and then land, the struggles that would later become war had begun.
The constellation of the Great She-Bear is also known as the Plough. This name marks the takeover by centralised patriarchal powers of the decentralised feminine tribal-totemic life. It may also indicate that the impulse which brought us the physical plough originated in the constellation of Ursa Major.