7 Apr 2009

Our Womb is Wild: Shepard, Coming Home to the Pleistocene, Ch.4, subsection 5

Paul Shepard

Coming Home to the Pleistocene

Chapter IV: How the Mind Once Lived

Subsection 5

Our Womb is Wild

Contemporary culture imagines prehistoric societies as childlike. They worship a maternal earth goddess. But this belief results from "an eighteenth-century invention, a fantasy of urban disaffection." (63c) Yet no evidence suggests that our Pleistocene ancestors worshipped a female fecund earth deity. This was part of the later cultures that replaced the Pleistocene during the past ten thousand years. But before that humans venerated nature rather than human-like deities. And the animals they worshipped were wild.
These were not dogs, chickens, or milch cows but wild, free beings who owned the world as much as the hunters themselves, and in whose great beauty Homo sapienshad discovered a mirror of the best of human qualities. (64b, emphasis mine)
It was not until humans transitioned from hunter/gatherers to farmers that the imagery of fertile earth goddesses became important.

Shepard, Paul. Coming Home to the Pleistocene. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1998.

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