Helen Hye-Sook Hwang’s intriguing study, The Mago Way: Re-discovering Mago, the Great Goddess from East Asia (Volume 1), presents her discovery of the Great Goddess of East Asia and researches the spiritual aspects, cultural rituals and practices, prehistories, histories, mythologies and oral stories, tracing the goddess/goddesses through literary and other sources, of this huge region (pp.66,67). There are interesting illustrations and photographs to further assist in our understanding of the subject.
‘Trying to discover Pacific women’s roles and status, (and by implication, the Oceanic goddess) is problematic: women’s cultures, rituals, and symbols are there, despite contrary information. Pacific women are only now speaking out about themselves and their cultures and it is through their words that one can gain a true perspective. Western colonialism has been responsible for upsetting the harmonious balance between the sexes and for bias against women which has rendered them invisible in the New World.’ 1
I have chosen to look for the presence of the great Oceanic goddess in Papua New Guinea and related Islands because it is perhaps the largest and least known of all the Pacific Islands. (West New Guinea is Indonesian territory.) Australia was first settled around 100,000 years ago by peaceful hunter gatherers. Papua New Guinea had formed part of Australia until around 8,000 BP and this new island became known as New Guinea, located in the region what is now known as Near Oceania2.
First Wave: The Lower Palaeolithic Period – On the Physical Origins of the Goddess: Mother Earth
The ability to think has always been necessary to create, express and apply knowledge gained through good or bad experiences, and the most useful information, the basis for tradition. Theoretical physicist David Bohm and Mark Edwards (1991)1 argue that, as well as experiencing a growing awareness of metaphysical powers existing beyond human control, early humans around 3-2 million years ago had begun to gradually develop ways of thought. For the earliest humans, the part of a context which had value and was relevant to people’s circumstances was selected and given an image and a purpose. Relevant goals and values were achieved by community cooperation, and led to emerging complex social, cultural and religious systems. Just as the natural forces underlying devastating events beyond their control were gradually identified, early humans also began to recognise Mother Nature as the provider, the guide, the protector… Caves came to be regarded, not only as shelter, but also as mysterious places of birth and regeneration relating to the metaphysical world, (a view not shared by those in the more recent historic period).
For me, the goddess, the female deity, is not one but many; she has reached across all cultures worldwide, has had many aspects and attributes, and has been known by many different names. For example there are cultures which have not recognised a deity or deities, but rather, female spirit beings, which may be represented in certain land features, or by living creatures: particularly animals or birds. Or there may be a female-centred spiritual way of life which is not part of any religion…
by Judy Foster with Marlene Derlet
The Indian Neolithic Period (9,000–5,000 BP)
The earliest evidence of the Neolithic in the Indus River Valley lasted for 2,000 to 3,000 years, and may have spread from Anatolia through Iran. By 6,000 BP agriculture had spread throughout India. The Indus River area was the area most suited to agriculture, the growing of wheat and barley, and the domestication of cattle, sheep and goats. Women produced painted pottery.
Australian snakes are among the most beautiful and efficient creatures of the bush. They come in a range of sizes with varying degrees of toxicity, or none at all, and, in most cases, go about their business peacefully. Their colours and protective patterns are wonderfully varied, and suited to their environment. Surprisingly, snakes are deaf – they have no ears but use their forked tongues to smell and sense the presence of prey. They can feel the movement of larger creatures through the movement vibrations of body contact with the earth of larger creatures, including humans.
I have always been interested in visual symbols and their origins (explored at Art School, Monash University, and my own painting/drawing); through Australian Indigenous art and cultures, and through the lives of women in prehistory. I have 3 daughters, a supportive husband and live in Melbourne, Australia.
Published posts from the recent: