Over the course of the last several articles I have been describing the emergence of a goddess worshiping civilization in the aftermath of a powerful series of catastrophes that terminated the great ice age between 11 and 13 thousand years ago. I have presented evidence that human populations may have suffered a significant decline in numbers across the transition, as did many other species of large mammal, almost half of which − over one hundred species − went totally extinct. I have explained how, for about 3000 years after the glacial-interglacial transition was more or less complete, large regions of the Earth experienced a warm climate favorable to the recovery of nature and the biosphere. I have referenced the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas who focused her research on the culture that emerged in the dramatically altered post-glacial world, mostly in Europe and the Near East. She called this culture the Civilization of the Goddess. This time falls within a period referred to as the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, by the archaeological profession. A geologist refers to this same time as the Early Holocene epoch. We are presently in the Late Holocene.
The extreme planetary changes that characterized the glacial-interglacial shift left vast areas in Europe, Asia and both North and South America severely depopulated. Whatever kind of society, or civilization, had existed before the Pleistocene-Holocene transition was, in the aftermath, as absent from the scene as the gigantic ice sheets that, only a few millennia earlier, had swallowed up millions of square miles of Earth’s surface. Human social structures were left in a state of fragmentation, and there was little or no ability to communicate among dispersed groups of people, whose overriding priority would have been coping with the demands of adaptation to a rapidly changing environment, in short, with survival.
In the effort to understand the circumstances that befell our ancestors during these extraordinary centuries we could do no better than to turn to the words of Plato, the most venerated name in western Metaphysics. In his dialogue Timaeus, the very one in which he introduces the lost civilization of Atlantis to the world, he narrates the words of the elderly Egyptian priest to the renowned Greek scholar and philosopher, Solon. Solon had been exiled from his homeland for political reasons and sojourned in Egypt for a number of years. It was here that he first heard the tale of Atlantis, a tale that still resonates and excites the imagination of millions of people 2,600 years later. Plato describes Solon seeking out Egyptian priests with the intent of imbibing their knowledge and wisdom. (All quotes are from the Jowett Translation, 1892)
“Thither came Solon, who was received by them with great honor; and he asked the priests, who were most skillful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old.”
The priests tell Solon that next to the Egyptians the Greeks are but children. Solon desires to know what they mean by such a comparison. A very elderly priest replies:
“. . . in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition; nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you the reason for this. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes . . .”
The priests then go on to recount the myth of the youth, Phaeton, who, as the story goes, attempted to drive the chariot of Helios, the Sun god, who also happened to be his father. Due to Phaeton’s inability to control the powerful steads pulling the chariot it careens from its assigned pathway through the zodiac and descends towards Earth setting it on fire. Just in the nick of time Zeus hurls his mighty thunderbolt, which strikes Phaeton from the sky and saves the Earth from being completely incinerated. This myth of Phaeton, and Plato’s inclusion of it in Timaeus is of such immense import that I will expound upon it in greater depth in a future article. In relating this tale of fiery destruction to Solon the priests go on to say that
“when this happens, those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destructions than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. . . When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, among you herdsmen and shepherds on the mountains are the survivors, whereas those of you who live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea . . . The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer sun does not prevent, the human race is always increasing at times, and at other times diminishing in numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed . . . all that has been written down of old, and is preserved in out temples . . . and then, at the usual period, the stream from heaven descends like a pestilence, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and thus you have to begin all over again as children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.”
In a quite remarkable way the findings of modern geology, archaeology and astronomy are confirming the plausibility of Plato’s narrative. What we now can understand is that in the aftermath of the great terminal Pleistocene catastrophe, humankind literally had to begin again as children, and like children everywhere, they worshipped their mother, in this case a benign and nurturing Earth bestowing her blessing of warmth and abundance upon them after centuries of tribulation. In the early phases of the Neolithic scattered bands of survivors began the process of social restoration. Because of the wide dispersal of these groups, or tribes, little or no inter-tribal contact took place for a considerable time, from centuries to millennia in some cases.
Nature on the other hand recovers quite quickly in the aftermath of catastrophe. I recently visited Mt. Saint Helens, Washington, site of the great volcanic catastrophe of May, 1980. Here were nearly 300 square miles of forested land surrounding the mountain that were transformed into a lifeless, lunar landscape by the combined effects of volcanic blast, ash and pyroclastic flows. But 35 years later it is well on the road to recovery. Another century and the forests will have reclaimed the mountain and surrounding terrain and the effects of the great disaster will only be apparent to the trained eye. Nature is promptly healing this great volcanic wound.
So once the climate and environmental perturbations began settling down, about 10 thousand years ago, the terrestrial biosphere could begin to repair itself. And this it did quite rapidly. Within less than a millennia abundant warmth and rainfall transformed the devastated regions of the planet into thriving gardens of plenty. With so many of the large predators’ gone small game proliferated. Tribes evolved into communities and expand rapidly into the favorable environment. By 7 to 8 thousand years ago villages were established and networks of trade were emerging as the various groups begin to make contact with one another. But overall population was still small relative to the exploitable resource base, and there was no incentive for competition.
Gumbutas describes the natural world of Old Europe during the Age of the Goddess.
“Local forests abounded in game. In some areas . . . about 40 percent of the animal bones recovered from settlements are of wild species. Among the hunted animals, the auroch (wild bull) was of prime importance because of its heavy yield of meat, followed by wild swine, red deer, and roe deer. Fruit, berries, and nuts were also collected where available in the forested uplands. Crab apples, cornelian cherries, strawberries, elderberries, gooseberries, hazelnuts, and acorns have been found at a number of sites.”
But it was not only the harvest of the land the was available to these Neolithic people
“Numerous barbed harpoons, fishhooks, and spear points of bone and antler . . . attest to the intensification of river fishing. Large fish such as carp, catfish and sturgeon must have contributed greatly to subsistence, as did snails and mussels in the coastal regions.”
During this era of peace and plenty the arts flourished. Exquisite jewelry was fashioned from gold and copper. A variety of crafts were developed to high degrees of sophistication including the ceramic arts and pottery with use of the potters’ wheel and kilns. Beautiful fired and painted vases were produced in abundance. Architecture, too, reached a high degree of development with the construction of multi-room houses and numerous temples. Countless sculptures and figurines were fashioned in a dazzling variety of forms. These, along with their buildings, the people of the Neolithic decorated with a variety of symbols and scripts. That they had a rich spiritual and religious life is profusely apparent.
“Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the Earth, and subdue it.”
But at the dawn of the Neolithic, in the immediate aftermath of the tremendous, world shaking events that completely transformed the global landscape, and just prior to the appearance of the Great Goddess, the most pressing need was survival, regeneration of the species. Within the context of all that I have been describing in these pages we can now, perhaps, revisit the Book of Genesis and gain a new understanding of the well-known injunction rendered by God unto primordial Man, made in the image of God, in the first chapter of Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the Earth, and subdue it.”
I think the fact that the translator chose the word “re-plenish” speaks volumes, and opens the door to an entirely new understanding of the creation account of Genesis. In the aftermath of a catastrophic, mass mortality event, the meaning of “be fruitful and multiply” is obvious.
– Randall Carlson
Next: The Fall of the Civilization of the Goddess
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