Monday, 20 January 2020

Balluderon Stone

This is the Balluderon Stone, otherwise known as Martin's Stone. It is a class II Pictish cross slab in situ at Balluderon, Angus, Scotland.



 Local tradition associates the slab with the Legend of the Nine Maidens who were devoured by a dragon which was subsequently slain by a hero named Martin. Folk etymology names this as the origin of Strathmartine (Strike Martin), the valley in which the slab stands...

The legend is believed to have originated between the seventh and ninth centuries, when the Picts farmed the land in Tayside. I have come across two versions...

In one, recorded by the antiquarian John Pinkerton (1758–1826), the 9 maidens were daughters of a certain Martin. They are killed by a dragon and their father then avenges their death by killing the dragon:



In the other one the maidens were daughters of a local farmer. They are killed by a dragon and St Martin then avenges their death by killing the dragon:



Is this the actual meaning of this story?



I talked about the link between snakes and sun, sun's heat in many articles on my blog. Snakes our in our world during warm part of the year and in the "otherworld" during cold part of the year...Dragon is just another name for the "great serpent"...Basically the sun, sun's heat...

One very interesting thing about the Balluderon stone is this detali. What is this symbol? It most likely represents the beginning and the end of the snake period, considering that it is depicted upward at the head and downward at the tail...



At the first glance this stone looks so much like early medieval Balkan "Stećak" standing stones. And believe or not the same symbol is found on many of these Balkan standing stones. One example:



What is very interesting is that in the Balkans this symbol has "legs" and looks like anthropomorphic plant. Could this be Jarilo, Young sun from Slavic mythology, the bringer of life, the bringer of Spring? His name means Bright Hot one but also Young Green one...

In Croatia he is called "Zeleni Jura" (Green Jarilo) and is during Jurjevo (St George's day, but really Yarilo's day, Beginning of Summer festival) played by a may disguised as a green bush. This is the original Green Man...



So the symbols marking the beginning and the end of The Great Serpent (The Dragon) could actually mark the arrival and the departure of Jarilo (Sun). Jarilo, who was believed to spend winter in "the land of the dead", where he is "reborn" on Winter Solstice...I talked about this in my post "Young god".

Jarilo's day (St George for Christians) marks of the beginning of summer, the time when sun's heat becomes destructive. Jarilo (Whose name means The Bright Hot Raging one) is "The Dragon"...Dragon that has to be killed or the world will be burned too cinder...

And so St George kills The Dragon (Yarilo) 🙂 Hilarious. And very clever. Turning god into god killer...But also necessary and inevitable (thank god) or we would be living in a lifeless roasting desert...

In reality dragon killing is done by Perun, at the other end of summer. It is him who inflicts the deadly wound with his thunderbolt (spear, arrow, axe, club)... But Dragons are "nasty beasts" 🙂 and they don't die easily...

So it is at the end of autumn that they finally go "to the land of the dead"...By "coincidence" the same time when the sun goes to the "land of the dead" too...

Interesting: Annotated drawing of the Strathmartine recumbent grave-slab (no 2), and the reverse and obverse of the Balluderon cross-slab. From the James Skene sketch album, page 15. Date c. 1832 



Sunday, 19 January 2020

Bodzia cemetery

"Archaeologists remain mystified and spellbound by a 10th – 11th century AD cemetery discovered near the village of Bodzia in central Poland..."



Bodzia is a small village located in the Kuiavia region of central Poland, a few kilometres away from the river Vistula...



The first phase of the cemetery comprises four rows of chamber graves, all oriented on a N–S axis. The dead themselves were buried in wooden rectangular boxes reinforced by iron fittings. The inner parts of these boxes were decorated with fabric...



The abundant and rich grave goods, consisting of weapons, high-quality jewellery, ornaments, coins, amulets and many other finds, indicates that this was an elite cemetery. 



Weapons were found in the men's graves, i.e. swords of Viking type, langsax (one-edged sword), pickaxe, as well as finds associated with trade. These were members of the elite — warriors and their family members settled in the Polish territory...



One of the wooden coffins contained remains of a woman aged between 30–35 with a fatal wound to the back of her head. The remains of padlock and an iron chain found next to the coffin, indicate that the coffin had been closed with the chain (to prevent the woman from escaping?)

One of the peculiarities of the Bodzia cemetery consists of rectangular wooden constructions (perhaps fences or houses of the dead) preserved in the excavated area... 



But the main reason why this site is so baffling is the origin of the people buried in this cemetery together. The site demonstrates burial rituals and artefacts of Polish, Kievan Rus, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian and Khazar origin...

"A unique medieval cemetery from the 10th/11th century with chamber-like graves from Bodzia (Central Poland). Preliminary result of the multidisciplinary research" by Iwona Sobkowiak-Tabaka we read that "The strontium isotope analysis of the bodies found in burials, only one individual, a male, falls into the local range and was likely born locally in the Bodzia area. The remaining individuals, a mix of males and females, fall significantly below the local range for Bodzia and with in a range from approx. 0.709 to 0.711. These values are within the range of values known from southern Scandinavia or the Kiev region of the Ukraine or parts of northern Poland"

For instance this exclusively Slavic Kaptorga (amulet container) made of silver with the image of an eagle from chamber grave E72...


Bronze belt end from the grave of a young warrior from Kievan Rus, with a decoration on both sides: in the form of a Grand prince of Kiev Sviatopolk bident and an interlaced ornament...


What were all these people doing there together?



The nature of multiculturality at the site, and proximity to the Vistula River trade route, indicates that it was perhaps a foreign trade settlement connecting the Baltic to the Byzantine Empire. An ornate bronze balance found in one of the graves supports this explanation...



But another explanation is more likely. In "A unique medieval cemetery from the 10th/11th century with chamber-like graves from Bodzia (Central Poland). Preliminary result of the multidisciplinary research" by Iwona Sobkowiak-Tabaka we read that "The cemetery at Bodzia was established near the contemporary fortified settlement of Włocławek, locatedon the western bank of the Vistula, near a ford of strategic importance for the Piast state. The ford linked Mazovia (the eastern province of the Piast monarchy) with the areas on the western side of the Vistula. It was also at the juncture of two trans-regional trade routes: the Vistula route which joined the Baltic Sea littoral with the Danube river drainage basin (i.e. the territory of Bohemia and Moravia)and the Bug-Narew route which linked the lands of the Vistula drainage basin (and hence Piast Poland) with the Novgorod-Kievan Rus. This specific location gave Włocławek its status as one of the main fortified settlements of Boleslav the Brave’s (992-1025) state, mentioned in the 12th century chronicle of Gallus Anonymus (I.8). Together with Gniezno, Poznań and Giecz, other fortified settlements located incentral Greater Poland, Włocławek provided Boleslav the Brave, the first crowned Piast (1025), with a place for elite armed forces, which ensured his political supremacy in the region and the state."

To me the most amazing thing about this site is the amazement and bafflement of the archaeologists and the historians...This cemetery dates from around the time of the of the Cnut the Great 



According to Medieval chroniclers Thietmar of Merseburg and Adam of Bremen, Cnut was the son of a Polish princess called Świętosława, who was the daughter of the Polish king Mieszko I and sister of Polish king Bolesław I

This has been linked to Cnut's use of Polish troops in England and Cnut's sister's Anglicized Slavic name Santslaue...

This is also the time when large heavy duty trading ships of Slavic design start being built and used by the Norse. 



I wrote about this in my post "Ladia".

So if we know that at the time when this cemetery was built, Poles and Danes were fighting together under a Danish-Slavic kings, why is it surprising that we find Viking warriors buried in the middle of Poland?

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Coming of age

In the past in Kruševac and Jagodina, Serbia, young girls which were ready to get married, would get a big beautiful apple, and would knit a red woollen cover for it with white square pattern. They would bring this apple to a fair and give it to a boy they fancied.


I find it interesting that it is apple that was still given as a sign of physical love in Serbia in the 19th c. 

In the past in Mačva and Srem regions of Serbia, a girl ready to get married would make a 2 feet tall rag doll of a girl dressed in red which she would put into the house window. It would stay there until the girl got married. No image of these dolls exists, as far as I know. Maybe they looked like this?


An interesting custom existed until the beginning of the 20th c in Levač, Temnić and in some villages in Timok region of Serbia.  A boy who entered puberty (became "momak" in Serbian), would announce his sexual maturity by making a special staff called "momčanik".


The staff had to be made from a cornel branch. All the secondary side branches were cleared apart from the thickest two at the bottom which were bent and attached to the main branch.

Then a girl from the boy's family made a cover for the staff (it is not clear how, it says knitted), from red wool, with some decorations made from other coloured wool, but the main colour had to be red.

The boy would then carry this staff with him to all fairs and other gatherings, to announce that he is sexually mature and that he is ready to choose a girl for himself. He would carry the staff until he got married.

In some parts the groom would continue carrying the staff for a year after he got married. But this time a new one, especially decorated for him by his wife's sister...

Does anyone know of any similar customs from other parts of Europe?

The description of these customs can be found in the "Journal of the Ethnographic museum in Belgrade, book 1, published in 1926". Serbian, Cyrilic 

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Goropad


Recently I came across a very interesting article about the link between epilepsy and wolves in Balkan (mostly Serbian) folklore...

"Falling Sickness, Descending Wolf: Some Notes on Popular Etymology, Symptomatology, and 'Predicate Synonymy' In Western Balkan Slavic Folk Tradition" by Pieter Plas

The article is full of great ethnographic data, it makes some interesting connections, but it falls short of actully explaining this strange link. I would like to continue where the article stopped.

Wolves feature prominently in West Balkan (mostly Serbian) magic rituals used for curing epilepsy.

Among the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, epileptics drank water through the boiled throat or larynx of a wolf, which they ate afterwards; a wolf’s heart may also be eaten (raw or roasted) or worn (dried) on the body so as to cure epileptic fits.

In Zaječar (East Serbia) the testicles of a wolf were eaten for the same purpose. And in Central Serbia wolf’s eyes are worn sewn into the clothes as a prophylactic or curative medicine against epilepsy...

In North Croatian, almanac from the first half of the 19th century recommended drinking the powder of a wolf’s heart or liver (dried, pounded, and mixed with water) or eating wolf’s meat as a cure for apilepsy. A folk prescription in a Bosnian medicinal manuscript dated 1749 advises epileptics to drink rainwater found in a wolf's footprint...

In Metohija, Serbs wore the skin cut from around a wolf’s jaws, called vučji zev (wolf’s yawn) around the neck for three days as the cure for epilepsy. In North Croatia belts of wolfskin were worn on the body. In the Kučaj region of East Serbia, epileptic children are placed inside a circle formed with a string of wolf’s hair, which was then set on fire.

In the area of Leskovac (South East Serbia), the ‘falling’ of children due to fras ‘convulsions, spasms, eclampsia’, the symptoms of which are associated with epilepsy, is believed to be cured by the exclamation "Vuk, sine, vuk, majko!" (Wolf, o son, wolf, o mother!).

In Skopje region of Macedonia, any conversation about epilepsy must be ended with the words "Vuk pri nas" (The wolf with us), to prevent the disease to be called by uttering its name...

Why does wolf feature in all these magic cures for epilepsy?

Let me try to answer this question.

The main Serbian names for epilepsy are "padanje" (falling), "padajuća bolest", "padavica" (falling sickness). This name refers to the most severe symptoms of epilepsy: seizures, during which the sick person falls on the ground, loses consciousness or awareness and jerks uncontrollably.

In Serbian, epilepsy is also called "velika bolest" (the big disease), "rđava bolest" (bad/evil disease), "ona bolest, daleko bila" (that disease, may it be far away), "od onaj strana" (from the other side)...

Now you would imagine that there were much worse ilnesses than epilepsy. So why was epilepsy called "the big disease"? And what does it mean that it is "the disease that came from the other side"?

To understand this we need to look at another set of names for epilepsy:

"gora", "gorica", "gorska bolest" (forest illness) "goropad", "goropadna", "goropaština", "goropadilo", "goropaditi se", "pada od gore", "padati s gore" (which is falling, which fell from the mountain/mountain forest) illness...

Now this is a very very strange way to name a disease like epilepsy...

The word "goropad" is a very interesting word in Serbian langauge. Its literal meaning is indeed "one who fell from the mountain/mountain forest"... But it is used to mean "raging, wild, violent, forceful, fierce, unruly, devastating, untameable, scary, enraged, delusional, hellish, powerful, uncontrollable, restless, terrible".

This word is used to describe both humans who are in a state of high negative aggitation and wolves in their natural state...

So wolves are naturally "goropadan" fear inducing monsters...Which is why Serbs believed that "strava" (literally horror, but meaning fear fits, panic attacks, night terrors) in small children was the result of visual contact of their mothers with a wolf during pregnancy. There is an assertion recorded in Bosnia, that "strava" can "manifest itself as goropadica (epilepsy)”...Which indicates that Serbs believed that the wolf could induce epilepsy by passing his "goropadnost" (his natural state of horror inducing) to children who then develop "goropadica" (falling sickness induced by horror???)...

Which is why Serbian children that suffered from "strava" (horror, fear fits) were fumigated with (burning) wolf’s hair. Or they were rubbed with a wolf’s fur while saying "Da mi bidneš ka vuk" (May you be like a wolf) meaning fearless, the one who scares not the one who is scared. Or they were bathed in water in which a wolf’s heart (seat of courage) was rinsed...

Among the Serbs and Muslims in the Borja mountains in North Central Bosnia it was believed that "Ko kurjaka pati, taj će padati s gore" (If one tortures wolves, he will fall from the mountain, meaning will contract epilepsy)...They also believed that the livestock of the the man who tortured the wolf will also contract the same illness...

This is very interesting. It seems that people believed that the wolf will inflict the "goropadilo" as a punishment for mistreatment, disrespect. This is understandable if we know that Serbs respected wolves and equated them with their dead ancestors. Serbian old supreme god Dabog could take shape of "Lame wolf" and he was able to direct wolves and tell them what to do and who to attack. Which is why he was known as "The Wolf Shepherd". So disrespecting a wolf was a big sin and was therefore punishable by getting "goropadilo", "velika bolest" (the big disease) from (another) wolf.

Or the wolf god Dabog himself...

That this punishment could have been seen as coming from Dabog himself, can be seen from an ancient prayer against epilepsy recorded in Bosnia. In it, the devil, who in Serbian Christian folklore was assigned a lot of old prerogatives of Dabog, The Wolf Shepherd, The Lame Wolf, is ordered "not to gape his jaws at God's servant"...

After Christianisation, Serbian supreme god Dabog was replaced by Serbian patron saint Sava. And he also inherited the title of the "Wolf Shepherd" and the ability to command and control wolves...

In a Serbian folk tale, Saint Sava is requested by shepherds to christen a captured wolf that has killed their sheep, to prevent it from causing more damage. Remarkably enough, a monk is ordered by the saint, before the christening, to read out a prayer against "goropadilo" (falling sickness, lit. mountain/wood falling) to the wolf...Why? Is it because only wolves who themselves have "goropadilo" (the big disease), which makes them "goropadan" (terrible, frightful, monstrous), attack people???

In Svrljig, South East Serbia. There, children suffering from epilepsy were "locked in and unlocked from" a wolf trap at crossroads "in the dead of night".



The crossroads were one of the places where the dead gathered "in the dead of the night"...This is also a place where Serbs used to set up ritual feasts for wolves "in the dead of the night" so that they would take the offered food and leave people alone...I talk about these ritual wolf feasts in my post "Wolf feast".

This shows that Serbs saw wolves as their dead ancestors. And that they saw wolf actions as punishment coming from the ancestors. Including the original ancestor God Dabog, The Wolf Shepherd...

Wolf's natural habitat is "gora", word meaning both mountain and mountain forest. Which is why in Serbian folklore wolf always "silazi s gore" or "pada s gore" (both meaning comes down from the mountain/mountain forest). He is "sin gore" (the son of the mountain/mountain forest) and when wolf kills someone it is said "gora ga uzela, odnela" (mountain/mountain forest took him/it).

This is very interesting because in East Serbia, epilepsy is believed to be caused by a mythical or demonological character called "Gorska majka" (Mountain Mother) or "Šumska majka" (Forest Mother)...

So if we know that the word "padati" (falling down) in Serbian is actually a synonim of "silaziti" (coming down from), then "goropadilo" (epilepsy) could also mean "sickness that came down from the mountain/mountain forest"...

How can a sickness like epilepsy "come from the mountain/mountain forest"?

Well as we have seen the sickness is brought down from the mountain/mountain forest by a wolf, the son of the mountain/mountin forest...And not just any wolf. Wolf which is "goropadan" (terrible, frightful, monstrous).



There is a very intersting ritual recorded in all parts of the Balkans inhabited by Serbs. When a wolf is attacking the village, villagers organise a hunt, kill the wolf and bring it to the village. Then an effigy is made from the wolf's skin. This effigy is then paraded through the village, and villagers give food and drink to the hunters for killing the wolf. Actually, it seems that originally villagers were giving the food and drink to the wolf, as offering, as the whole procession is accompanied with the song that asks villagers for offerings "so that wolf will not come down from the mountain/mountain forest again"... This wolf effigy has to be made to look "goropadan" (terrible, frightful, monstrous) as "the dead wolf did a lot of evil things" before it was killed...

So here is what I think is going on here.

I believe that here we have a confusion between two ilnesses, with the same extreem symptoms: seiz seizures, fear, anxiety, agitation, muscle twitching, jerking excessive movement, drooling and foaming at the mouth.

The first one is epilepsy "padanje" (falling), "padajuća bolest", "padavica" (falling sickness).
The other one is rabies, "padanje sa gore", "goropadanje", "goropad" (falling from the mountain/mountain forest sickness). This is "the big disease" which "came from the mountain/mountain forest" and which was brought from "the other side" by the wolf.

I wonder if people couldn't distinguish between these two illnesses and somehow they merged them into one. In the past people didn't know that things like bacteria and viruses existed and that they were the cause of diseases. They knew that if a "goropadan" wolf burst into a village and bit someone, the victim would develop "goropadanje" (falling which was brought from the mountain by the wolf) and which made the victim have seizures, fear, anxiety, agitation, muscle twitching, jerking excessive movement, drooling and foaming at the mouth...



Rabies. This is a horrible incurable disease which results in terrible agonising death.

Then when someone developed epilepsy, which had very similar extreme symptoms, people would believe that the person suffered from the same "wolfish" disease... Which is why epilepsy eventually started being called "goropadica". And which is why we see all these wolf related magic rituals used to cure epilepsy which has nothing to do with wolves...

That this indeed could be what happened can be seen from the fact that Serbs saw the epileptic symptoms as fury, rage which is why they associated epilepsy with "strava" (horror, panic attacks in children). And these panic attacks were in turn associated with insanity and rabies which is in Serbian called "besnilo" (rage, fury) which is one of the meaning of the word "goropadnost" used for epilepsy...

Serbs also believed that "besnilo" (rage, fury, rabies) was an an innate or intrinsic quality/property of wolves, which can be seen from a phrase "bijesan kao vuk" (furious, raging, rabid as a wolf) used for persons with "bad temper".

Which must be the consequence of relatively frequent rabid wolf attacks in the past...

We known that an attack of a rabid wolf is a horrifying traumatic experience. So traumatic that it can cause "unborn babies to develop night horrors if their mothers have seen a wolf while pregnant". To understand what I am talking about, here is a report describing an attack of a rabid wolf in India and the horrible consequences that it left on the community:


Imagine the consequences before vaccines...

It is interesting that the report says that a dog developed rabies after eating a rabid pig carcass. In Serbia people believed that insanity can be caused by eating the brains of a rabid wolf...

So...

Normal healthy wolves avoid humans and especially human settlements. Only rabid frenzied wolves would burst into a village and start attacking people for no reason...Well except during big snows, when "in the dead of winter", hungry wolf packs would out of desperation, and again in frenzy induced by starvation, attack villages "in the dead of the night" in search of food...

And if the wolves were rabid, and if they bit people or their animals, they would fall ill with "the big bad sickness brought down from the mountain by a wolf"...

What do you think?

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Two Georges

In Gaelic calendar, year was divided into two parts: the light (hot) part, which started on Bealtaine (1st of May) and ended on Samhain (31st of October), and the dark (cold) part, which started on Samhain (31st of October), and ended on Bealtaine (1st of May)

Interestingly, the same division of the year exists in Serbian calendar, where the light (hot) part starts on St George's day and ends on St Mitar's day and the dark (cold) part starts on St Mitar's day and ends on St George's day...I talked about this in my post "Two Crosses".




St George's day is celebrated on the 23rd of April, just few days before the beginning of summer (6th of May, mid point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice)...This day is said to commemorate the day of execution of St George. Icons made for this day depict St George on a horse with a spear killing the Dragon...


In Serbia, there is another St George's day which is celebrated on the 3rd of November. Just before the beginning of winter (5th of November, mid point between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice). This day is said to commemorate the consecration of the church in Lydda, built by Constantine the Great, which housed the relics of the Saint George...Icons made for this day depict St George standing with a spear...


It is interesting that these two St George's days mark the beginning and the end of the white (hot) part of the year dominated by the sun...When we know that St George is Christianised Jarilo, Slavic sun god...

In Slavic mythology snake is the symbol of the sun, sun's heat. Snakes come to the surface during white, hot part of the year. During the summer, the hottest part of the year, sun's heat becomes destructive. This is burning sun is symbolically represented as a dragon breathing fire. 

As I said I always found it very funny that the Sun God Jarilo, whose name means Brightly Burning, Raging one, Who is the Dragon, was replaced by St George, Dragon killer. And that St George kills the Dragon on the day which is in Gaelic calendar known as Bealtaine (The day of the brightly burning fire). The day when people light up bonfires to mark the beginning of Summer, the hottest part of the year. The day when sun snake turns into a sun Dragon. 

St George also kills himself (Jarilo, Dragon) on the day when he was apparently executed according to Christian cannon...

All very strange and coincidental...

In the past in Serbia, the St George's day marking the beginning of summer, was the day by which the flocks were brought up to the highland pastures. And the St George's day, marking the beginning of winter, was the day by which the flocks were brought down from the highland pastures...

Which is why St George is the patron saint of shepherds...I talked about many interesting Serbian rituals related to sheep performed on the St George's day marking the beginning of summer in my post "Aries must die".

By the way, there is another Sun god which is also a Shepherd god...

Apollo...


Apollo who is Greek Jarilo...

Just in case people still wonder whether Apollo was originally Shepherd God who acquired attributes of a Sun god. It was probably the opposite... 

Thursday, 9 January 2020

The faceless one

Kostenki is a very important cluster of Paleolithic sites on the Don River in Russia. Dated to after 25 000 BP, these were settlements of mammoth hunters who lived in dwellings made of mammoth bones...

And they loved making "Venus" figurines from mammoth ivory...



The figurines bodies are all anatomically perfect and different, definitely modelled on real probably pregnant women from the community. But they are all the same in one respect: they are all faceless...




In my recent article about faceless "Palaeolithic venus figurines" from Europe I argued that these figurines were deliberately made faceless to emphasise the they were symbols of fertility, of fertile earth, Mother Earth, and not depiction of real women...

I concluded that this was a proof that Palaeolithic people were able to invent, transmit and understand complex symbols and their meanings...

Then someone replied that I was wrong, and that most likely the reason for making these figurines faceless was that there was a taboo on depicting human faces. Considering that we have lots of depictions of anatomically perfect animal faces.

When I replied that we have found both faceless figurines and figurines with perfectly depicted human faces (both male and female) on same archaeological sites, the same person replied that maybe there was a taboo on depicting only the face of the goddess...

This got me thinking. The thing is The Goddess has no face. Fertility, Fertile Earth, Mother Earth has no face. Putting any face on The Goddess would demeen her and "desecrate her" in the most literal sense of this word...

Our Palaeolithic ancestors seem to have understood this.

Our Neolithic ancestors also understood this, as a lot of the early Neolithic Goddess figurines don't even have a head...

Like this one from Tappeh Sarab, Kermanshah ca. 7000-6100 BCE, Iran



Or this one from Cucuteni–Trypillia, 5500-3000 BCE, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine


Those figurines that have heads are either faceless, like this Cycladic female figurine, from Amorgos, 5300 – 3200 BC...




Or look like they have masks over their faces, like this Vinca culture figurine dated to 5000 - 4500 BC.



I talked about these Vinca culture masked figurines in my post "Mask from Belo Brdo".

If you were a priestess playing the role of the Goddess, wearing a mask would transform you in the eyes of the observers from a mare woman to a Godddess personified...

Masked figurine from Gumelniţa culture, 4700BC-3950BC Bulgaria, Romania



This is very important, as we can see soon in this thread...

Of course, there were also figurines which had faces. But most of these were just outlines of human faces, usually just noses on blank face with or without eyes. Like this figurine from Starčevo culture, 6200-5300 BCE, Serbia



But eventually all Goddess (and God) depictions were made with human face.

Why?

Because if the Goddess (or God) has a human face, we can reason with her (him). We can plead to her (him). We can argue with her (him). We can bargain with her (him). We can (try to) cheat her (him)

If you are staring at an expressionless blank face, all you can do is submit and accept your faight...

Interestingly, by the time we get to the Ancient Greece, the only deity still (sometimes) depicted without a face is the dreaded Goddess of the Underworld: Persephone...



Not Hades, the god of the underworld...

Why?

Well, because it is the Goddess, Mother Earth, is the mother who eats her children...And as our return to the Mother who gave birth to us is unescapable, there is no need to put a face on it. We can't plead, argue, bargain, cheat our way out of it...

Believe or not (again) this faceless Persephone could be preserved to this day by Sorbs (Baltic Serbs)...



Every year, just before Christmas, the oldest unmaried girl in a village gets dressed as a "bride", puts on a faceless mask, and visits the houses accompanied (orginally) by two other girls bringing good luck, good fortune and presents. She never speaks...

I talked about this custom in my post "Bescherkind".

She is "the maiden", "the bride", "the giver of gifts" (all epithets of Persephone as Kore, the Young Spring Earth). Her two female companions are most likely the summer and autumn earth, bountiful Demeter, and winter earth, the "old lady", "the witch" Hekate...

But wait, the winter is in Slavic folclore the part of the year rulled by Morana, the Goddess of Death, the old hag...Why do we then have a faceless maiden wander oround villages in mid winter giving presents to little children?

Because Morana (winter), Vesna (spring) and Mokosh (summer, autumn) are just three faces of The Goddess, Mother Earth. In Serbian mythology she is known as Dajbaba (Giving Mother), the wife of Dabog (Giving God, Giving father)...Da+Mater (Give, Allow + Mother in Serbian)...

Morana, believe or not, was by Slavs also imagined as a white maiden.



Her effigies, were ceremonially burned (heating up the earth) or drawned (thowing the earth) at the beginning of February, beginning of Spring...

These effigies were originally made of sheafs of grain over which a white maiden robe was put on. She was often decorated with necklaces made of egg shells...



The meaning of this effigy was: "spring emerging from under the snow (from underworld, dead part of the year, winter)"

And remember how Serbs believe that all good luck, good fortune, good harvest are all the gifts of their dead ancestors. Which is why the dead are majorly spoiled by the living with constant prayers and sacrifices...Especially during the winter. I talked about this in my post "Wolf feast".

So who better to represent this role of the dead, but the "giver of gifts", "giving mother", the faceless Mistress of the underworld, the land of the dead, the dead time of the Year, Persephone...

Persephone, who was to Minoans known as "pe-re-swa" Interestingly (again) "pe re swa" in Slavic languages means "One who was before all others"...

Fitting name for The Goddess, the Mother Earth, the mother of gods, the one who came before all other gods...

But maybe this is just a coincidence...