Virginal Huntress/Warrior: Her Undying Ice Age Cult
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by John T. Cullen
Description: Fierce and beautiful, she still today brings with her a breath of Ice Age mystery. With minor variations, she is Athena, Joan of Arc, Marianne of the Barricades, and Rosie the Riveter. The Ionians worshipped her since at least Neolithic times. When the Greeks founded the chief city of Attica during the Iron Age, they named their city after her: Athens. Atop the city's high hill, they created a sanctuary dedicated to her, and named its chief temple the Parthenon, which means Temple of the Virgin. This article ties together evidence from the Ice Ages through ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages, right up to modern times, showing that her cult has been around as long as mankind.
eBook Publisher: Clocktower Books and Far Sector SFFH (magazine), 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [140 KB]
Reading time: 60-84 min.
She is a mystery far older than history: the virginal huntress-warrior who continues to fascinate. From Ice Age hunter to invincible Neolithic warrior, she has a special place in history. Her appeal is powerful, and mysterious.
In Classical Athens, in the middle of the 1st Millennium BCE, the cult of the virgin is a prominent religious force represented in several chaste deities (e.g., Athena, Persephone, Artemis). She is the tutelary (protective) deity of Athens. The centerpiece of her sanctuary atop the Acropolis is the Parthenon. The word Parthenon means Place or Temple of the Virgin (Gr parthenos, virgin). So the Athenians named their city after her, and built her many temples and shrines, foremost among them the great Temple of the Virgin, which is part of the Acropolis (acro, high + polis, city) UNESCO World Heritage Site.
She has walked in from the Ice Ages, and dwelt in many cultures of the Holocene Epoch. She has been the invincible huntress, the protectress, of many cultures long forgotten and nameless. In Classical Greece, she gets a name that we remember. She inherits her weapons and her qualities--wisdom, courage, fierceness--from far older deities like the Egyptian Neith and some aspects of the Sumerian Inanna.
From Greece, our trail leads forward to modern times, and back into the Ice Ages. In every age we touch upon, we find manifestations of our warlike and invincible woman, to whom warriors and generals turn for help and protection. She is usually either virginal, or at least untouchable and exalted. We'll look at a few major examples.
Doesn't this seem strange, in light of the fact that women in most societies and in most ages, since the Neolithic, have been relegated to far less visible roles? That is a fundamental contradiction we explore, in seeking a conjecture to solve this puzzle.
Classical Athens is at the pivot of our conundrum. From that vantage point, we can look back through the millennia in to the Ice Age. We can look forward to the age of Joan of Arc, Marianne, and Rosie the Welder. Perhaps today, as the women's rights movement gathers strength around the world, and real women fight and die in combat, the need for a virginal Athena changes from its Neolithic distortion. Maybe Rosie the Welder was the last of her kind.
The virgin female hunter and leader of men in battle is one of the most powerful icons of human history. She is with us in some form even today, in an age when it is no longer startling to see women in police and military uniform. Her likeness was the symbol of the U.S. Women's Army Corps. At least two of her manifestations are national icons of France and Europe. One is St. Joan of Arc, the virginal, teenage field marshal who led France to independence and died for the cause in 1431, at age 19. The other is the bare-breasted revolutionary seen today on Euro coins: Marianne of the barricades, leader of street battles against tyranny.
Our cover shows Eugene Delacroix's stirring 1830 painting Liberty Leading The People, capturing a romanticized spirit of the revolutions of that year. Marianne always appears bare-breasted, a symbol of nurturing and protection amid the blood, smoke, and screams of battle. Like Athena Promachos (First Fighter, She Who Fights In Front, upper right), Marianne leads--raging, bellowing, and waving the flag of freedom. Men are inspired by her wild, fearless courage, and follow her to hell and back. Superimposed, lower right, is a nameless Ice Age beauty from 25,000 years ago, who may be an archetype of the virgin huntress.