Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily The Great Mother and Partnership Societies Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein The principal religion and mythology of the Neolithic period seems to have concerned a Great Mother Goddess, the source of agricultural and seasonal return, and hence the giver of all life support. The Neolithic woman, as the source of human biological life, was used in iconography as the image by which this Great Goddess was represented, with big hips, breasts, and a protuberant belly.  Many early cultures, though they might not be considered “civilized,” seem to have had partnership societies in which men and women were considered equal, with the males of the population being the hunters and the women of the population being the gatherers.  All people lived with respect for and in harmony with nature; the “web of life” was the principle behind the holistic worship of the Great Mother. (Among animals most associated with the Great Mother Goddess were the snake and the bull, about which there will be more discussion later.) The polarities of life were represented by the holistic/ feminine/ gatherer/ nurturer who was conceived of as life giving, and the focused/ masculine/ hunter/ killer who was conceived of as necessarily life taking, in order to provide the necessary food for the sustainment of human life. (Hence, there is a religious necessity among aboriginal peoples to appease by prayer and sacrifice the spirits of the animals and plants whose lives are taken as food.) Symbols from this period that seem to have represented the two genders were the downward-pointing chevron— V —representing the female’s gathering basket and sexual paraphernalia, and the upward-pointing chevron— ^ —representing the male’s arrow-tip, spear, or other weapon, as well as his sexual paraphernalia. We’ll see variations on these symbols as they were elaborated in later cultures.