Transcript of Disc I, Chapter III: Flight
© 2013 Max Dashu

A Spanish rock painting shows a women’s ceremony about ten thousand years ago, at Cogul in Catalunya.

Cogul 2
One of the dancers has floated into the air, her form half dark and half light, as if between worlds. She  hovers above a running deer, which may be her spirit helper.

Los Grajos, Spain
Several other women fly above animals in paintings at Los Grajos. They’re closely associated with ceremonial dances. This one appears above and to the left of the ritual dancers.

Los Grajos
To the right of the ceremony, another painting shows a woman floating diagonally above a deer – as in the painting at Cogul.

Floating Saharan women
Floating female figures, also shown in relation to animals, were painted in the murals of Tassili-n-Ajjer, southern Algeria.

Flying, Algeria
One shows an elongated female form (note the breasts under her arm) flying and towing along a crouching figure, both painted in the white of the spirit realm. This may represent a shamanic soul retrieval.

Flying, Kimberley mountains
Flying figures also appear in extremely ancient rock paintings in the Kimberley range of northern Australia. One was dated to at least 17,000 years ago, but they could be 20,000-40,000 years old.

Kimberley three red figures
These Dreamings of ancientAustralia show ancestral beings flying in ceremonial regalia: tassels, feathers, headdresses and body paint.

Kimberley flight
The gender of some figures is left ambiguous; the focus of these gorgeous paintings seems to be flight of the spirit.

Awesome presences are painted in the rock canyons of Utah, often accompanied by serpents.

Utah, detail
One of these colossal beings cradles in its hand the small winged figure of a spirit-traveler

Tennessee Cave
In a Tennessee cave is another bird-person with both arms and wings, and robes that are also a tail  [different from the kilted falcon-men that dance in copper and shell art.]

Fugoppe Cave
The wing-spreading beings in the petroglyphs at Fugoppe Cave in Japan may show shamans or spirits.

Tanum Bohuslan, Sweden
A flying woman, with winged hands and a prominent breast, soars above a spirit boat at Tanum Bohuslan, Sweden

Kalbak Tash
An impressive group of shamanic females are engraved into the rock at Kalbak Tash in the Altai, central Asia            [though her voice sounds deep, the Tuvan throat singer in the underscore is a woman]

Kalbak Tash 2          
Their upraised, winglike arms and tail-like fringed skirts are often interpreted as bird-attributes

Kalbak Tash 3
At least one of them is horned. All have prominent vulvas and wear the leather-fringed robes of north Asian shamans

Altai Rock
There are at least four engravings at Kalbak Tash, with outstretched arms, and on this one, apparent wings

Middle Lena river, eastern Siberia
An outlier of these vulva’ed petroglyphs is found deep in Siberia, along the Lena River, in the form of a flying skull

An engraved shell from the Spiro Mound in Oklahoma shows a feather-crowned woman flying or diving from the sky.

Another flying woman was cast in bronze in Urartu, ancient Armenia, about 27 centuries ago.

Permian flyer
The Permian culture, where Europe connects with Asia, cast a bronze female shaman riding on the back of a great bird

Perm Flyer
The Permians made many images of flying spirits, shapeshifters, animal riding shamans, and the Mother of Nature.

Iran silver ca. 2000
The shapeshifter extends her arms which become wings in this Iranian silver amulet from 2000 bce. Iran2000DV.tif           

Iranian ewer, 850 CE
Much later Iranian artists portrayed a woman being borne aloft by a simurgh. She holds up magical plants, possibly the legendary elixir, haoma [soma in Sanskrit; or it could represent the baresma, an herb associated with the goddes Anahita, possibly depicted here.]

Simurgh and woman
The woman ascending with a simurgh is a recurrent theme in Persian silverwork, as late as the 9th century.

Thacian dragonrider
In Bulgaria, a Thracian woman rides on a dragon. The Greeks said that the Thessalian women to their north were witches, but the Thessalians looked further north to the women of Thrace.

Griffin-rider, Begram
In Afghanistan, the woman ascends on the back of a winged griffin, one of many chimeric shamanic steeds, including female sphinxes.

Begram 2
These ivory sculptures of the Buddhist era show Afghan dakinis, variously understood as goddesses or female adepts and yoginis

Puntshokling monastery mural
The Tibetan word for dakini is khadroma or khandro, “sky-goer.” Murals and thangkas show them on the backs of stags, tigers, and other animals. [mKha-gro-ma]

Rock art at Olyokma, Manchuria, also shows a person in shaman’s robes riding on a deer.

Maya bowl
In Guatemala, a Maya woman riding on a deer may be a form of the Moon Goddess, one of many overlaps of goddess and medicine woman.

Tellem ancestor
In the Dogon country of Mali, a co-gendered or intersex ancestor rides a magical creature, throwing her arms up over her head in rapture

Polar bear rider
An Arctic angaqok rides astride a polar bear spirit, in a modern carving by Cecilia Arnajuk of Repulse Bay, Canada.

Witch rides tiger
Europeans said that witches rode the skies on shamanic animals. Medieval bishops scolded against a belief in women who “ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of the Pagans”

Witch on broom
Church murals in Schleswig depict witches riding both on animals and on birch broomsticks, ritually naked except for their cloaks. The broomstick was used in ceremonies of sweeping away illness and malign spirits.

Mexican priestesses did ritual sweeping to cleanse and purify space. Aztecs portrayed the goddess Tlazolteotl, who is a medicine woman, as riding a broomstick with a serpent

A Pureh’pecha woman recounted how she rode an eagle into the heavens on a spirit journey to a gathering of the old divinities.

Nanyang rubbing
In China, spiritually realized humans became immortals, called xian, and rode astride tortoises and other sacred animals of the Directions.

Xüan Nü on leopard
Taoist lore attributes amazing feats to female adepts who lived in the mountains, subsisted on herbs and knew their healing power. [They're often shown wearing herbal capes.]

Dragon Rider silk painting
Flying on the backs of dragons and phoenixes, healing and prophesying, bilocating to distant places, and even disappearing from prison cells –or eluding capture altogether.

Winged tiger embroidery
Tigers are shamanic animals in China and over much of Asia. Shapeshifters often take this form, here sprouting wings for spiritual flight.

Miao Shan
As Miao Shan was about to be executed as an unfilial daughter (for refusing to marry) a tiger appeared and bore her to the gates of Nirvana, where she became the bodhisattva Guan Yin

Red Thread
The medieval Taoist adept Red Thread was described flying over the walls of a beseiged city to protect it from invaders.

A more primeval voyage occurs in the Japanese legend of Princess Tamatori Steals the Ebb and Flow Jewels from the Sea Dragon. She’s wearing the string skirt of archaic female ceremony.



Woman Shaman: the Ancients © 2013 Max Dashu




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