Wicca is a new religion, but people have been following Pagan ways for much longer. Archaeology has shown that the female image was formed into idols, figures and statues for many thousands of years. The true purpose of these figures is speculated to be spiritual in nature and connect the fertility of women with the Earth, but in fact we can never know what the artist was thinking when he/she created them.
All of these figures can be found as reproduction statues, and grace altars around the world today. Though they don’t represent specific Deities, they offer us a connection with the Divine feminine from a time before history.
This female figurine is probably one of the best known prehistoric Goddess images. This limestone figure was created around 24,000 and 22,000 BCE, making it one of the oldest man-made images in existence. It was discovered near Willendorf, Austria in 1908 by Josef Szombathy. The most prominent qualities of this figure are her large breasts and stomach. There are no facial features except for markings on her head which may represent curled hair or a head covering. The original statue is currently kept at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
This image is not a figurine like the one from Willendorf, but is part of a relief wall mural that actually pictured other females and a male. The Laussel images were found in Laussel, France in 1911 by Dr. J.G Lalanne. Her large breasts and belly may represent fertility, and she is looking towards a notched horn in her hand. There are 13 notches on the horn, which might indicate the 13 lunar months of the year. This figure has been dated to 22,000 and 25,000 BCE. The original piece is in the Musee d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France.
This graceful Egyptian figure is a personal favourite of mine, and was created much more recently than the 2 previous images (around 4,000 BCE). Many figures of this style where found in the Egyptian area and are considered to be funeral icons. Unlike the bursting fertility of earlier female figures, this one is more abstract. The curved head and upswept arms have a bird-like quality to them. Her stance is similar to that of a modern Priestess who is drawing down the moon. Archeaologists believe this figure represents reincarnation or rebirth, rather than fertility.
This statue is also known as the Minoan Snake Goddess. She was found near Knossos, Crete and was created around 1600 BCE. Her breasts are bare, as was the style in Minoan culture of the time. There are differing opinions on the significance of this figure. Some archeologists feel that the snake was a domestic or household Deity, but others disagree. The original image is currently in the Herakleion Museum of Crete.
This Mesopotamian statue dates to 2,000 BCE. Her enormous hips are similar to the bountiful shapes of the Willendorf and Laussel images. She is offering her breasts which also represents nourishment and fertility. Unlike the other 4 images I have mentioned, this statue is of a specific Goddess. Ishtar was a Mother Goddess, and is called the ‘Queen of Heaven and Earth.’ There are many ancient myths involving Ishtar and the other Deities of the Sumerians.