"The Language of the Goddess" is a must-have for anyone interested in symbolism and imagery, as it presents some of the oldest decorative markings ever scratched into stone, bone, and wood. Most of the images, reproduced in line drawings and black-and-white photos, are taken from Neolithic European village sites dating back as far as 7,000 B.C. Thus they are, for the most part, a product of agricultural cultures. However, there is a striking similarity between some of these marks and those found on relics from Paleolithic hunter-gatherer sites, examples of which appear in this book.
The link between the images from Neolithic and Paleolithic sites arises at least in part from those cultures' shared worship of the Goddess. In the text accompanying the images, Gimbutas tries to reconstruct the world-view of the European Goddess-centered people. She works by inference, looking at various found objects and their markings--not just in their historical context but also in relation to each other.
For instance, in her chapter entitled "Net Motif," she writes, "Signs associated with the framed net -- parallel lines, zig-zags, tri-lines, M's, and chevrons -- place it within the aquatic symbol family. . .the framed net also appears with symbols of becoming: egg, vulva, uterus, fish bladder forms, and plant leaves. This implies that the net is linked with aqua-cosmogony, the life source, and the birth of human, animal, and plant life. . .in other words, it must have been a symbol of the "water of life" well known to us from myths. The net design. . .probably emphasizes the life-giving power of the Goddess."
It is interesting that we still speak of "the web of life," and the "interconnectedness of all beings." The web is an ancient image, and just one of many in the book that readers can recognize as still resonating for us now. Some other images which Gimbutas presents are Meander and Water Birds, Streams, Tri-Line and Power of Three, and Deer and Bear as Primeval Mothers.
This book is wonderful for textile artists, potters, painters, or poets - indeed for anyone interested in drawing inspiration from the furthest reaches of human history. These are powerful symbols for study, which come alive when given careful attention.