Our Goddess Heritage

This blog seeks to explore the divine feminine by examining the history of women. The analysis of archaeology and history found here is meant to raise questions, not necessarily find answers. In addition, by looking at our female ancestors, we can seek to make connections in our current lives and define ourselves as women in fresh ways.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Emily Mills

Emily Mills

Emily has a master's degree in literature with a focus on women's history and works as a writing teacher. She is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Sacred Tattooing : A Brief Introduction

Altering the body as a means of drawing close to our gods, signaling our membership in a religious community, or communicating our beliefs has a long history. Tattooing has a proud place in human religious practices. For thousands of years we have sunk pigments into  our skin in a painful, transformative process. While those of us in the West may often think of tattoos as some combination of art or fad, there have always been those who practice tattooing as part of their spirituality. And among these people, we see a rich history of women tattoo artists and Goddess imagery. 

A recent issue of Archaeology delighted me with an overview of some ancient tattoo practices, including the role that women played in various cultures. I would like to introduce you to some of these ancient tattooers and their work over the course of the next few posts that I make. This will build up to the eventual discussion of spiritually significant tattooing in women's lives today. At some point, I will share with you the experience I went through adding an ancient tattoo image to my own collection of tattoos.

To get started, let's look at a quick assortment of ancient tattoo images.

...
Last modified on
1

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I apologize for my absence this month. My husband was in a bad car crash just before New Year's. Our car was totaled. He's doing well now, but January was a hectic month!

I'm about to start a new series in February about ancient and contemporary tattooing as related to goddess spirituality.

I would love to include some interviews with women who have spiritually themed tattoos. If you are interested, please contact me on my personal blog by leaving a comment here with your e-mail. I will not publish your e-mail.

...
Last modified on
0
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • DiAnna Stephens
    DiAnna Stephens says #
    I don't have any spiritual tats right now, but my next tattoo (planned to be done in the next couple months) combines my spiritual
  • Twilight Kallisti
    Twilight Kallisti says #
    I have three tattoos and all of them are for spiritual reasons. I'd be happy to be interviewed.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Emily, I'm just glad that your husband is well. Be careful out there!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Other Season of the Witch?

I'm currently getting into the Yule spirit by reading a new Llewellyn title. The book The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch is a collection of Christmas traditions that many of us may not be familiar with. Creatures such as elves, gnomes, and werewolves roam the wintry landscape and leap off the pages. Goddesses and witches also make appearances, which has helped me to look at the Christmas season in a new light.

Yes, this book focuses on historical Christmas traditions, but Raedisch posits that many of these traditions and tales have their origin in Europe's pre-Christian past. I'm inclined to agree.  This book really does explore the "old magic" of the season. For instance, there is an interesting tension between the feminine aspect of death and birth in many of the folk customs that are described. Much like the traditional Halloween, there is the juxtaposition of the crone witch with the young woman who tries her hand at fortunetelling for fertility, luck, and husband-seeking.

Last modified on
1
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    Love the idea of a Christmas witch!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Museum Meditations

Do you ever long for an ancient temple to visit or wish that there was a centuries old place full of a rich history of the feminine Divine to tap into? I don't always, but sometimes I do. I love Gaia and do feel that for the most part my worship and meditation is wherever I am; this is especially true for me when I am outdoors. While there are places I could go, temples to visit, and other gatherings, they are not always accessible.

That's when I turn to museums and art galleries to seek out a human expression of the goddess. A few years ago this was limited to the small college art gallery in the tiny town I lived in. This past year I have been fortunate enough to live near a major art museum with a classical collection. Now, I am in the process of moving again, and I don't know what I will find in my new town. So, to tide me over, I took one last trip this year to one of my favorite places, the St. Louis Art Museum.

I want to share some of my favorite images of Goddesses with you, which you can view if you ever find yourself at SLAM.

Last modified on
3
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    This is wonderful--I wish more people would share photos of Goddess statues and other objects from the museums nearest them. Perha
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Thank you! That's a great idea, and the pictures could show the locations, so people would know where to go. Hmmm.. Maybe I can st

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Women Who Painted in Caves

As the upcoming Mercury retrograde and the natural progression of the seasons here in the Northern Hemisphere takes us on a journey into the Underworld, let us contemplate our deep, ancient ancestors. Fittingly, we will travel into the caves of our past, if only in our minds.

Cave paintings have been presented to us as a masculine narrative. Often, these stunning examples of paleolithic art, have been interpreted as created by male hunters to increase the hunt. Other theories have suggested that the paintings were to communicate something to visitors to the caves, perhaps of religious significance. Intriguingly, these paintings depict both predator and prey animals. However, that’s not all. Cave paintings also sometimes depict voluptuous female figures and symbols for the vulva.

Who painted these images?

Last modified on
4
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Mills, Thanks for the insight! It helps to illuminate not only the how and the why, but the who, of paleolithic cave art. It

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Goddess at Pagan Pride

As I explore how the Goddess and women made a mark on our shared spiritual heritage, I cannot forget that we are creating a history of Her, here and now. What we make, do, write, and become will be analyzed by future generations. How will we be remembered?

One of the traditions that we are creating now is the celebration of Pagan Pride throughout September. This weekend I attended the new St. Louis Pagan Pride event with the intention of seeking the Goddess. I found her in the faces of the women around me.

Last modified on
1

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
African Beer Goddesses

Women and Goddesses are credited as the originators of beer in ancient cultures worldwide. While our culture might frame beer as a stereotypically masculine drink, the history of beer is far more complex and interesting. As we saw in ancient Sumer, women not only brewed beer but also were the primary tavern keepers. For this round of our discussion, we’ll turn our sights to the African continent to find out more about Goddesses who love to drink!

...
Last modified on
1
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Yesterday right after I read your column I headed off for my monthly massage - my masseuse was randomly drinking a beer during my
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    So interesting! I love the connections that I'm finding as I blog here.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Fun! Thanks for the info - whiskey next?
The Goddess and Beer: I'll Drink to That

As the nights shift to cooler weather in my part of the world, a woman’s fancy begins to turn to…beer? Well, maybe that’s just me, but the harvest time brings to my mind celebrating life around a bonfire with a cold bottle. Autumn grain festivals could be the perfect time to pour out a foamy libation. As interestingly, many researchers argue that our ancient ancestors began cultivating grains not for baking but for brewing. Ancient cultures across the world incorporated these brews into daily religious life. And in that history of the development of beer, women and the Goddess take a central role. The ancient beer makers in many cultures were often women, and their products were sacred to Goddesses.

...
Last modified on
0
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Peter Dyr
    Peter Dyr says #
    Siduri not only represents a goddess of beer/fermentation, she was also the first recorded person to provide us with Carpe diem-li

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Strettweg Chariot

Perhaps one of the most intriguing ancient items that I have come across recently is the Strettweg Chariot, sometimes called the Strettweg Wagon. While researching the pre-Christian chariot burial of an ancient woman for my first blog post, I found this unique vehicle. The central figure is female; she towers over those assembled around her. The true meaning of this item is lost to time, but that won't stop us from discussing the tantalizing possibilities that the Strettweg Chariot offers up to the mind.

Highlighting the history of women and our connection to feminine concepts of Deity is the central purpose of this blog. While I won't always focus on items from the ancient past, recovering the role that women and Goddesses have played throughout time often means turning to the pre-Christian era. That is the time period that this artifact hails from. The Strettweg Chariot rested in a grave of cremated ashes for over 2,500 years. It was buried sometime in the 7th Century B.C.E. in what is now Austria and has come back into human hands to proclaim its mysteries.

Last modified on
0
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    Also brings to mind the World Tree or Atlas, holding the cosmos upon his shoulders. Although it could've been used as an offerin
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    I'm loving your posts, Emily! Soul vitamins...
  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    Interesting that the 12+1 has shown up repeatedly in human mythology, including that guy Jesus and his 12 pals. Much later, before

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Emily-Mills_Queen_Boudica_137.jpgWe look to the past to inform the present and to help define ourselves in relationship to those who have gone before us. For women that type of reflection can be clouded by the assumptions made by researchers operating in patriarchal environments. The role of women throughout history was often over-looked or even misinterpreted. This can still happen today, as we all have internal biases inherited from what our cultures teach us. When we think of women in the distant past, what picture forms in our minds? How does that shape how we feel about ourselves as women today?

In reality, the story of women is far richer, varied, and dynamic than we are taught in our schools and in our popular history. Like the Goddesses we read about, or worship, or simply respect, we have played an active part in all facets of human culture. The amazing legacy of women is one that archaeology and history is constantly uncovering.

I like to think of this as looking back in time with the eyes of the Goddess. We can see Her at work throughout history in our female ancestors. Whether in pre-Christian cultures that worshiped Goddesses, or in the divine feminine that still breaks through in Christian history, we can search through the mists and find Her. We do this by examining the lives of the women who came before us.

...
Last modified on
1
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    I've never made the connection before that both Freyja and Artemis (another Goddess important to me) are charioteers-- perhaps tha
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your thoughts and questions. I look forward to hearing the whispering from beyond death that your thoughts and ques
  • Tammye McDuff
    Tammye McDuff says #
    I was born to my mother, taught by my grandmothers and birthed by Gaia, she continues to define me.

Additional information