The World's Oldest Witch
Why Is She So Important?
Well, most people put the earliest human ancestors at a mere 20,000 years ago. If we had already developed a formal religious system some 14,000 years ago, then our concept of God or religion goes back farther than that. In other words, even earliest man and perhaps even older ancestors had a form of religion. Our special lady comes from Hilazon Tachtit in northern Israel. The photo shows the burial cave. Photo credits go to Mati Milstein, unless she has sold them.
This priestess, wise woman, or witch was able to make sacred tools for her work. This showed high brain functions like our own and puts the 'God" part of the brain into action much earlier than commonly stated. So, even 14,000 years ago she was a shaman from a long line of healers if the foot is an ancestor relic. This may have been her teacher's or a blood-relation. Either way it was very special to be buried with her.
UPDATE: Tools dating back to 500,000 years ago have been found. That's not a typo. Seems our pre-human ancestors were a heck of a lot smarter than expected. I got your 'so easy a caveman can do it' right here. This blows the doors off of the given date for even the crudest tools as being a mere 250,000 years ago.
By contrast our earliest primate ancestors date to around 45,000,000 BCE.
Her burial chamber
Long before our ancestors stopped hunting and gathering they had a system in place to bury and honor the dead. She wasn't just dumped by the wayside, but placed carefully in a hewn rock tomb. The cemetery then grew around her. This shows us her presence made the area holy.
Her burial was also much more elaborate than those surrounding her, so we know she had high status in her society. This meant that at least one group had a female spiritual and perhaps tribal and wartime leader. That she lived to old age shows she led her people a long time.
She was placed in a cresent position for burial. with the objects fanning out almost in rays around her. A symbol of the moon goddess,and a sun god, perhaps? I couldn't help but notice a fairly clear pentacle in the object placement. Of course they may well be a reference to star systems as well. Which would set astronomy (if not astrology) back thousands of years before given dates.
This shaman or witch (some debate she was either) had a lot of tools of the spiritual kind with her. From 50 complete tortise shells, to parts of an ox, boar, stone marten, leopard, cow and golden eagle. She also had a basalt bowl which has shattered over time.
Why the turtle shells? These could have been for scrying, using either water or small bones or other items which would be rolled in the shell then cast out. She may also have kept her magical or shaman tools in them. We know the blood spilled from the turtles would feed her in the afterlife. The feast by the other members of her group may have been her wish or the religious burial practice of the time.
The feathers give us several very exciting clues. They may have been worn for power or used in a smudging ceremony to protect her people. It is important to note she is using a predator's feathers, an old symbol of spiritual or earthly strength.
The leopard pelvis may be for fertility or perhaps used in time of warfare. True, it could have been a proto-idol if her people worshipped a leopard god. But killing living versions of a deity usually is not a good idea. The gods being very offended when their living image is killed. Think of cats in Egypt.
Yes, In rare cases some people think it is the highest form of worship and the deity him or herself commands the use of the sacred animal this way.
The other assorted parts have many possibilities. One is that the animals were sacred to her god or goddess and therefore set aside for holy work. In this case the god was clearly not seen as a divine or holy animal. The animal was a sacrifice for this deity.
They might also be charms to protect her on her journey to her afterlife. In her religion there may have been a rich oral history and each sacred item would reflect a god or power needed to cross over. Yes I said cross over. You don't bury people with such great care if you have no concept of a soul or afterlife. Why, after all, give her tools if she would never use them?
This is very exciting as it predates the Egyptian belief in physical objects being useful to the spirit after death by thousands of years. Her people knew of an afterlife then, and prepared her the best they could.
Ancient Semitic God/desses
Thousands of years before they settled on one single male God, the people who were the ancestors of Abraham had many Deities. The most powerful that we know of, and one who appears many times in the Bible (albeit in a negative sense) was the great Mother Serpent.
Spells to Her have been found in Egyptian tombs, which shows Her cult had a wide base. Indeed, by the time the Creation story with the single male God was made, we can tell Her cult was being eradicated.
So the serpent became evil in the story. Which, by the way, goes back to a far older story of a Babylonians Mother Snake Goddess who guards the tree Adam must eat from. Apparently Her cult survives, for Moses will get a serpent staff that turns into a snake at his command.
She never really disappears, but does get a sex change. After fighting in the Holy Wars the Catholic Church borrows the ideas of Hell and an evil opponent for God. He sounds like the evil Set, but somehow looks like and behave like the old God Pan.
Remember, they wanted all contenders dead, not just those in the holy war. Sadly, this isn't a new idea as many pagan religions used the same tactics. It is thought for example, that Set was a much older Deity replaced by Bast and others. But alas for the poor serpent, the idea stuck.
Some other Mother Goddesses like Tiamat, Lilith, and even serpents and dragons got the boot. Cherubim, before fiery dragons, now turn into man-like angels.
Another slain rep was the gentle God of farming Baal. He was a sort of brother to Jehovah. One grew crops one was more warlike and shed blood. Then the more warlike one took over by 'killing' his brother's following. Hmm, a brother who kills another one. But wait, didn't they reverse it and make the more gentle one bad? Cain slays Abel, and poof! No more gentle farming God for these people.
Again, Baal might have reappeared as the Golden Bull, and even as the slain animals offered to Jehovah. Religions after all, change to match the needs of the culture they are in. Oh, yes in the 'lost books' you will find good witches and more foolery making pagans who loved serpents look plain ignorant.
There is far much more to these fantastic older religions of course, but they do show magic was alive even thousands of years ago. They also give us a good idea why so many animals and cultures got labeled evil. Yes, spiders, bats, and all other sorts of critters were sacred symbols the world over before.
Just to make things interesting Sophia, the female consort to the Christian/Judeo God was at first, a serpent. The prayer card to the right is actually my symbol for the Vodoun spirit Aida Wedo, yes, a giant serpent.
I adore this ring and never take it off.
Your power animal
Although they are animals or animals spirits, they are more interested in your spiritual growth. A totem animals will choose you, or you will feel drawn to her. There is no way to convince a totem to work with you, they must see a reason to do so. Totems can be either gender, I use he or she to help you see them as real helpers.
Alligator: He just exudes the bayou vibe and self-confidence. He can teach you how to defend your rights, how to woo lovers, or how to use your inner magic to wow people. No matter where he is, alligator will thrive and survive.
Buck: He knows the might of the stag and can pass it on to you. All members of the deer family know different skills and can pass them on to you. Specializes in avoiding danger and keeping alive in harsh conditions.
Bull: He knows about courage and how to take on opponents. He can show you how to be aggressive in a smart way that gets results. Bull also knows to be gentle around women and children.
Cow: People might think she is slow, but cow knows what she is doing. She provides for her young, gives us milk and cheese and, in the end, meat. Cow can help your self image as she knows she is fabulous and just the way Deity made her.
Crow: Happy and clever totem that he is, crow is full of trickster magic. He can help ease grief or loneliness, or reveal hidden talents or spiritual treasure. His cries remind you to look up, be positive and soar high.
Deer: All members of the deer family know different skills and can pass them on to you. Specializes in avoiding danger and keeping alive in harsh conditions.
Dragon: A powerful totem with much wisdom. Dragon will grant you the ability to stand and fight when needed. She knows much lost lore and may share it if given her own cozy corner to nap in.
Eagle: Being the most sought after totem, eagle knows all about people wanting to ride on her mighty wings. She'd rather teach you to soar on your own wings and abilities.
Fish: Fun-loving fish knows a lot about magic. She is friendly and bright, always willing to cheer people up. Trust fish to have much wisdom about hidden matters.
Gorilla: Cares about the family unit and his place in it. He will use his strengths to protect the young and defenseless. May have great ideas about finding safe places and essentials like food.
Hyena: Don't count her out! Hyena is willy and knows how to fight for survival in a deadly world. She knows to run with the pack for strength and that she is only leader when she is fit to be.
Jackal: He knows how to stay hidden and his own self worth. Jackal doesn't need the world to love what he does as he knows it needs doing. He can help you find the worth in even the most mundane tasks.
Kangaroo: She keeps her young hidden until they are ready. So too she can teach you to hide talents until they mature.
Lion: Can teach men how to value their masculinity. He feels his pride belongs to him and will fight any male intruders.
Lioness: She rules the pride with a powerful paw. It is she and not the lion who owns the land. Lioness will teach you female mysteries, pride, and how to nurture young. She knows she is powerful and how to use it in a positive fashion.
Meerkat: Fights to retain her crown and protect her turf. She knows how to rule and how to provide for and lead a big family or army.
Monkey: Quick and fun-loving monkey can help you balance work and play.
Owl: Known for wisdom, magic and a connection to the underworld, Owl can bring you closer to the Crone Goddess or, in my case, Santa Muerte. That's her cute little owl statue to the right.
Penguin: Helps you to make a swift escape, knows how to find the ocean's bounty. Great at extremes.
Quail: Loves to rear young and knows how to stay still to avoid predators. She can always find food in a pinch.
Rat: She is the true survivor. Being a clean animal she won't tolerate a messy nest. She also won't back down when she knows the right thing must be done.
Raven: Connected to many Gods and Goddesses, he knows how to inspire you to work harder, or how to fly high over lesser beings.
Shark: She has the wisdom of her people. A shark will know how to survive on simple means, how to nurture the young, and aging with grace and pride.
Tiger: Will help you find your territory and know your self worth. Deep spiritual insights in the entire tiger clan.
Tigress: Will help you provide for your own cubs or run with your family. Highly intelligent, brave and favors the family unit.
Unicorn: Represents purity of spiritual knowledge. He can help you find your magical path. Very fond of women and children whom he protects. Can help men find their inner warrior.
Vixen: She is all about taking care of her kits. She has to be twice as clever to protect and feed all those babies. Foxes love magic, gentleness and fun. But she will teach you to bite if cornered too.
Wolf: Noble and wild. Wolf can teach you to watch silently, be loyal to family, or to protect yourself. Wolf is often shy, but knows how to defend the pack and young.
Zebra: She has all horse abilities, but also knows a great deal about blending in. She'll fight when she has to. Zebra also can teach you to be wild and free spiritually. She can teach you how to get along with others too.
I try to keep my hubs fair and up to date. That said, sometimes I miss important details. I welcome questions and comments too.