Monday, January 25, 2016
The Snake Witch of Gotland
The image combines two ancient bits of iconography: the mistress of animals and the woman giving birth. (Like Artemis and Diana, the virgin huntress was also often the goddess of childbirth.) This stone therefore reaches back to the earliest depths of Eurasian myth, and symbolizes as well as anything the vast store of vision, song and story that lies behind or medieval legends. Even if the carver of the stone had some particular character like Angrboda in mind, his work touches the deep springs of our culture: the dreams of Paleolithic shamans, the cry of the sacrificer, the mutterings of priests atop mud-brick towers in Babylon far away.