Last night I sat down at the computer with a cup of tea, a pen and a tablet, ready to experience “Ancestral Stones of the Elder Kindreds.” It was Max Dashu’s visual tour of the megalithic standing stones of Europe. I thought I was ready for the course, but I found myself writing and sketching all over my tablet until I had 6 pages of scribbled notes.
Deanne Quarrie (Bendis), a scholar and author in her own right, also took the class. She says,
I sat enthralled before my computer, enjoying Max’s collection of images of standing stones and menhirs from France, Spain, Germany, areas around the Mediterranean, and from Africa, clearly representing woman’s forgotten place in our ancient heritage. I am going to be taking her course (also online) and can hardly wait – I am so excited!
During the 90 minute presentation, Max showed over 120 slides of rare and wonderful stone art, most of which is never reproduced in books on megaliths. She carefully explained similar features and themes among figures. Some images were still clearly visible, while others were so worn that the symbolism could only be seen with the assistance of Max’s cursor. (Even if I had run across those images on the web, I wouldn’t know what I was seeing.)
In addition to looking at the figures, we saw “womb tombs” (or as the archaeologists say, “barrow graves”)“ near which kerbstones (“guardian” stones at entrances) were caretully set. It is rare in works about Neolithic Europe that statuary is presented in the context of the original locations.
Yet—it’s all about location. Earth-centered artists attempting to understand prehistoric art are no longer content to look at what was created. We want to know where it was placed and why its location was chosen.
In this presentation, the images that gave me chills were the pictures of long lines of stones carved with breasts, located inside the passages of the womb-tombs. Imagine the power of walking past such a line of ancestral grandmothers to lay the dead to rest.
I have often said that an hour with Max is like a private tour with the art historian of the library at Alexandria. She looks at and looks for sacred images of women with a passion that is second to none. But she also knows how to present this elusive, esoteric material in a way that makes it accessible. She ties together all the disjointed bits of information found in literature of art history, folklore, and archaeology.
If you missed this presentation, you’ll have to wait for that chapter in her book, still in progress. But if you want another chance to learn from Max, she has a web class starting up this month! If you are interested in learning about Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, check it out in our short article or contact SourceMemory, and register after July 14. (It’s very reasonably priced at $30/month)