Take a look at this photo. I took it when I was in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna last week. It’s a very small sculpture that has come to be known as the Venus of Willendorf. It’s about 23,000 years old.
We sometimes seem to be very fond of detail in the Pagan community – initiatory lines, who initiated who, is this thing we do authentic, is that thing we do what the ancient Druids did, and if not…blah, blah blah. The latest thing I’ve been reading on the web is people discussing whether it is right to call the Autumn Equinox Mabon, and asking those who do to justify their use of the word for the festival. I can understand peoples’ passion about their spiritual path but this stuff has never really bothered me. If some Wiccans want to call the Autumn Equinox Mabon what does it really matter? To me life’s too short to worry about stuff like that.
Take another look at this photo. A figure carved by human hands around 23,000 years ago. When I stood before her I found I had tears in my eyes. I found myself imagining the hands carving her from the stone using flint tools. I imagined this person dedicating their time to creating her from the raw stone. To represent what? Fertility? Bounty? To me she is both of those things and more. And when I stood before her I found myself thinking only of my relationship to this Earth as a human animal – the same human animal that carved the Venus around 23,000 years ago. We live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we die. Just the same.
The detail we seem to sometimes love as modern Pagans, in that moment, just seemed so insignificant.