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Mother of the Animals

Image of a horse from the Lascaux caves.

Image of a horse from the Lascaux caves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve written before about how cultures that transition to horticulture and then to farming also transition out of animism. Often there is a stage in which there are deities with animal heads and/or bodies, who later turn into a human form after the society has fully embraced farming.

Sometimes, however, there is a stage in animist cultures, especially strong hunting cultures, where the source of animals to kill for food is envisioned by hunters as the mother of all the animals. That great mother is then petitioned to keep providing animals to feed the people.

In some cultures, a hunter buries parts of the animal he has killed with a prayer of thanks to the mother of animals and a petition to continue providing animals like it for the hunters.

Archeologists believe that hunters created the famous cave paintings at Lascaux, Altamira, and Chauvet as part of prayer and/or devotional rituals to encourage the mother of all animals to continue to provide them with prey.

Reproduction of cave of Altamira in "Deut...

Reproduction of cave of Altamira in “Deutsches Museum” Munich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drawing of horses in the Chauvet cave.

Drawing of horses in the Chauvet cave. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The theory is that, as in some indigenous cultures todsy, the Earth was the mother of all, and the deep caves were considered to be her womb. Interestingly some of the most beautiful and prolifically painted animals in the Chauvet caves are pointed so that they appear to be issuing from a naturally existing cleft in the cave wall. And that cleft is shaped like a huge vagina.

It is as though the Earth herself, as mother of all animals, is giving birth to the animals. The painted animals include mainly hooved animals but also a few predators.

Posted in Animal Deities, Animals, Animism, Modern Musings.

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