Tonight we celebrate the ground-breaking work of Marija Gimbutas whom UNESCO recognizes as one of the eminent personalities who have “helped shape the civilization we share by contributing to the mutual enrichment of cultures for universal understanding and peace.” Her 100th birthday—January 23, 2021—is being commemorated in international events, new publications, and a year-long exhibition at Opus Archives, Pacifica Graduate Institute.
From the earliest neolithic village sites of Old Europe (7000–3500 BCE), Marija Gimbutas has given us a “fundamental glossary of pictorial motifs…to establish the main lines and themes of a religion in veneration, both of the universe as the living body of a Goddess-Mother Creator, and of all the living things within it as partaking of her divinity” (Joseph Campbell). In this time of our universally recognized need for radical transformation of consciousness, her message is of an actual “Great Age of Harmony and Peace” in accord with the creative energies of nature which anteceded our five thousand years of patriarchal cultures. Her groundbreaking “Kurgan Hypothesis” regarding this “collision of culture” and evidence of the sovereign worship of a multifaceted Mother Goddess evolved through her newly conceptualized methodology of interdisciplinary scholarship which she named “archaeomythology,” bridging archaeology, linguistics (she read in twenty-five languages), folklore with mythology and symbolic studies, physical anthropology, and ancient history.
We’ll survey The Language of the Goddess: Unearthing the Hidden Symbols of Western Civilization and The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe.
Throughout the Ukrainian world, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lesya Ukrainka (1871–1913) is being celebrated this year. Ukrainka wrote “Forest Song” two years before her death. When first presented, B. Yakubsky wrote, “In truth, this is a symbolic drama of profound psychological interest, of an extraordinarily deep and tender lyricism whose language, full of the rich treasures of native folklore, is most harmonious and musical. It is an outstanding creation, not only of Ukrainian but of world literature.” Set against the background of Ukrainian mythology with “the activity of the manifold spirits behind the visible world,” the work interprets a myth about Mayka, a woodland nymph who falls in love with a human.
Suffering from bone tuberculosis from early childhood, Ukrainka insisted that, like Mayka, her spirit could transcend physical suffering. At the end of the play, Mayka becomes immortal as she turns into a willow tree—“I am alive! I will live eternally; I have that in my heart which cannot die. I love my pain, for I gave life to it.”
Мавка: Ні! Я жива! Я буду вічно жити! Я в серці маю те, що не вмирає.
Марище: По чім ти знаєш це?
Мавка: По тім, що муку свою люблю і їй даю життя.