by Etain
          A Lithuanian Litany For Marija Gimbutas
           May the earth-mother Zemyna hold you in gentle embrace.
             May Medeine, spirit of the forest, shade you in summer.
              May the rays of the goddess Saule warm you in winter.
             And may Laima, lady of good fortune, bring to fruition
                                      all that you conceived.
                                ~~Hilja and Roger Wescott
                                              April 1994
Little did I know when I chose Marija Gimbutas to write about for my final project that there would be so much research material available about her. She is mentioned and discussed in almost every Goddess book that I have on my shelves and then of course she herself was a prolific writer with more than twenty books and hundreds of articles to her credit. There are videos of her lectures and audio tapes of her interviews, there are anthologies and biographies and I haven’t even mentioned all the web sites..... It has been quite the adventure to get to where I am now, simply scratching the surface with my report about this extraordinary Goddess Woman. It became obvious to me during my research that my love for her is well shared across the world by millions, men and women alike.
“The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees and flowers.”                                                                            
                                                                           ~~Marija Gimbutas
An Incredible Goddess Among Us: Marija Gimbutas
Born in Vilnius, Lithuania on January 23, 1921 Marija Birute Alseikaite to parents, both doctors, who placed great value on education as they believed it was essential for the preservation of their Lithuanian culture and a necessity in order to bring about political liberation of their homeland. Her early years were spent surrounded by political intellectuals, artists, writers and musicians which would instill in Marija a sense of pride and a deep love of her Lithuanian heritage. She would also grow to share her mother's love for and preservation of the Lithuanian folk arts.  As a teenager she would spend her summers wandering through the countryside recording the thousands of folk songs of the country people. Marija saw first hand their pagan heritage and fell in love with folklore. Lithuania was the last European country to accept Christianity, therefore keeping much of the ways of their ancient past alive into our modern day twentieth century.
"The Rivers were sacred, the forest and trees were sacred, the hills were sacred. The earth was kissed and prayers were said every morning, every evening..."
                                                                            ~~Marija Gimbutas
After completing high school from which she graduated with honors Marija started her studies at Vilnius University in archaeology, ethnology and linguistics. It was during these years of political strife, war and the Soviet re-occupation of her homelands that she would marry her high school sweetheart Jurgis Gimbutas, complete her studies at the university with a Master's Degree in Archaeology, give birth to her first daughter, write her dissertation and escape to Austria where she lived until WWII was over in 1945. She then enrolled at Tubingen University where she received her Doctorate in Archaeology. In 1949 Marija along with her family would immigrate to the United States.
"I do not believe, as many archaeologists of this generation seem to, that we shall never know the meaning of prehistoric art and religion."
                                                                            ~~Marija Gimbutas
On arriving in the U.S. she accepted an unpaid position at Harvard University translating Eastern European archaeological text and she lectured for their Anthropology department. In 1955 Marija Gimbutas was made a Fellow of Harvard's Peabody Museum. Believing that she would never be offered a paying position at Harvard, which she so richly deserved, Marija accepted a position at UCLA in 1963. She was happy in California, she thrived in the warmer climate and her career blossomed. Between 1967 and 1980 she directed major excavations of Neolithic sites in southeast Europe where she unearthed hundreds of figurines and objects of daily life, which she interpreted as expressing a sophisticated religious symbolism. Marija synthesized these findings into a theory redefining our concept of "civilization" and our understanding of prehistory. This was accomplished through her interdisciplinary approach combining linguistics, mythology, comparative religions and the study of historical records. She called this approach archaeomythology.
"This was a long-lasting period of remarkable creativity and stability, an age free of strife. Their culture was a culture of art."  
                                                                            ~~Marija Gimbutas
An introductory clip from the documentary
Signs Out Of Time by Donna Read & Star-
Hawk and narrated by Olympia Dukakis
can be viewed here:
Over the years Marija wrote many books and had earned a reputation as a world class specialist on the Indo-European Bronze Age as well as on Lithuanian folk art. However it was her last three books; The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974), The Language of the Goddess (1989) and The Civilization of the Goddess (1991) that would bring her fame and notoriety. She presented her theories about the Neolithic cultures across Europe, what she saw and named the Old European system, to be a goddess-centered and matriarchal society, a true civilization that was peaceful, egalitarian and expressive of an earth-based spirituality. She boldly reinterpreted European prehistory with her knowledge of linguistics, ethnology, and the history of religions, challenging the traditional assumptions about the beginnings of European civilization. Marija Gimbutas reclaimed that lost knowledge... she lifted the veil to recapture a time of the Feminine Divine... she reawakened the sleeping Goddess in us all.
“Through an understanding of what the Goddess was, we can better understand nature and we can build our ideologies so it will be easier for us to live.”                              
                                                                ~~Marija Gimbutas                                      
My art projects of Goddess Figurines were inspired by Marija Gimbutas:
Snake Goddess, Nile Bird Goddess, Willendorf and Sleeping Goddess of Malta.
                                              copyright (c) Etain
                   To Marija Gimbutas The March of Courage

She fled from a forest 
in Lithuania leaving her roots
ploughed deep
in the furrows
of her motherland.
Following the ancient road 
through Europe
through wars, restless resorts
a march of courage
The Freedom Path, always
leading to the United States.

No Welcome embraced her
No sharing of space
Unblinkingly she faced
harsh hinders unlimited
coupling with possibilities galore.

she created her path
through history, into history
her march of courage 
leading to new and ancient routes
through Europe
our passage to the land of the Goddess.

Softly the song of the flute
is falling, floating, 
into the call of trumpets
in her name.
Marija Gimbutas!
In her name
let us work together 
wherever, whoever is searching the truth.
~~ Irmelin Munch
An interview with Marija just two years before her death can be found at this site (see below). In it she explains her thoughts concerning the controversy over her life’s work while maintaining her beliefs about the Ancient Goddess culture of  “Old Europe”.
Some of her books and publications:
~Prehistory of Eastern Europe. Part I. Mesolithic, Neolithic and Copper Age cultures in Russia and the Baltic area. American School of Prehistoric Research, Bulletin No. 20. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1956. (Second printing, 1958).
~Ancient Symbolism in Lithuanian Folk Art. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, Memoir Series, Vol. 49, 1958. Lithuanian translation, 1994.
~The Balts. Ancient Peoples and Places, Vol. 33. London: Thames and Hudson; New York: Praeger, 1963. Translations: Italian (1967), German (1991), Portuguese (1991), Latvian (1994).
~The Slavs. Ancient Peoples and Places, Vol. 74. London: Thames and Hudson; New York and Washington D.C.: Praeger, 1971.
~The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, 7000-3500 B.C. Myths, Legends, Cult Images. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974. Revised edition: The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500-3500 B.C. London: Thames and Hudson; Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982.
~Neolithic Macedonia: As Reflected by Excavation at Anza, Southeast Yugoslavia (editor). Los Angeles: Monumenta Archaeologica I, Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, 1976.
~The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.
~Achilleion. A Neolithic Settlement in Thessaly, Greece: 6400-5600 B.C. (edited with S. Winn and D. Shimabuku). Los Angeles: Monumenta Archaelogica 14, Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, 1989.
~The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991.
~The Living Goddesses. edited and supplemented by Miriam Robbins Dexter. Berkely: University of California Press, 1999.
Marija Gimbutas’ books and papers are housed at the Joseph Campbell and  Marija Gimbutas Library at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California.
Prestigious Awards and achievements:
~Fellowship of Harvard’s Peabody Museum in 1955
~The Outstanding New American Award in 1960
~Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral
   Sciences at Stanford University 1961-62
~Fulbright and American Academy of Science Fellowships
~Humanities Endowment Award in 1967
~Los Angeles Woman of the Year Award in 1968
~Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study
   in the Humanities and Social Sciences, 1973-74
~Project director of five major excavations of Neolithic
   sites in southeast Europe between 1967 and 1980
~Honorary doctorate at Vytautas the Great University
   in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1993
My Sources:
~From the Realm of the Ancestors: An Anthology in Honor of Marija
   Gimbutas. Joan Marler 1997.
~The Once & Future Goddess by Elinor W. Gadon, 1989.
~Shakti Woman Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World by Vicki Noble, 1991.
~The Living Goddesses by Marija Gimbutas,  1999, paperback printing 2001.
~The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas, 1989.
~Signs out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas (videotape).
   Belili Productions.
~The World Of The Goddess a Mystic Fire Video and a presentation of The  
  Green Earth Foundation, 1993.
Audio tape
~The Age of the Great Goddess: Marija Gimbutas An Interview With Kell
   Kearns (audio tape) A Sounds True Recording, 1992.
Heading photo courtesy of
                                          copyright 2007 (c) Etain
A Goddess Found Among Us