have led escorted tours to Europe, the Mediterranean, Turkey and North
Africa each summer since 1982. From the very beginning of my travels
I took pictures of things that I found to be esthetically appealing
or intriguing, and over the years I developed a portfolio of slides
taken in museums and at archeological sites.
In Crete, Greece and especially Turkey, I was struck by the similarity
and vast number of figurines and other representations of women that
have been produced from the Neolithic period (10,000-4,500 BCE), the
Bronze Age(3,000-1,200 BCE), the Greco-Roman period (1,200 BCE-476AD)
until the early centuries of Christianity. From such Neolithic sites
like Catal Huyuk (7,000 BCE) in central Turkey, archaeologists have
uncovered religious shrines showing evidence of rich wall paintings,
plaster reliefs and small statuettes. Depictions of women, either pregnant
or corpulent, predominate. Two hundred miles away from Catal Huyuk is
the site of Hacilar, which dates from about 5,600 BCE. All of the representations
of human figures discovered in Hacilar are of women.
Why that should be I only understood years later in works by
feminist authors like Barbara Walker (The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths
and Secrets), Riane Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade) Marija Gimbuts
(Language of the Goddess) and Adele Getty (Goddess: Mother of Living
Nature). As I read these books and contemplated my slides, I realized
that this was not "Art for Art's Sake." It became clear that the belief
in divinity has been centered on the female (the mother, the giver and
nurturer of life) for a very long time, by a great many people. For
how long and by how many people, I was not to fully understand for years.
As Adele Getty aptly wrote: "The Goddess appears in culture after
culture with a multitude of names; her pantheon is vast and her domain
wide. Our early ancestors were polytheists and pantheists; there was
no one all-powerful deity ruling over the lives of humanity but rather
a multi-faceted Goddess who could be called upon by name to satisfy
the needs of the people. Her shrines were found everywhere, for everywhere
is her abode-near the hearth, at the sacred well or spring that provides
water for drink and healing, in the ancient groves of trees forming
Nature's cathedral, in the deepest caves... All were sacred to the Goddess.
All were recognized as forming part of the Great Mother and therefore
In 1998 I worked with a panel of experts on an OMSI exhibit on
human origins, featuring early artifacts form European museums. The
center piece of the exhibit was the so-called "Venus of Dolni Vestonice,"
from the Czech Republic. The experts date Her from c. 27,000 BCE. There
in front of me was a small, hand-size, female figurine from the Paleolithic
period that was exactly the same size and exhibiting the same characteristics
as the female figurines dating from my photographs from the Neolithic
Period, c. 7,000 BCE. The depiction and worship of Her had gone on for
more than 20,000 years longer than I had realized!
Michael Reymers offers slide presentatios on the Goddess
and leads groups on escorted tours. He tailors tours to the specifications
of 10 or more travelers who wish to form their own group to visit Goddess
sites in Europe, the Mediterranean and Turkey. He can be contacted at