Forest Perfect appears to have existed pre-6 million years ago. Surrounding the early hominoid species that inhabited this lush rain forest, trees and plants with a profusion of fruit and vegetables provided them with an abundant vegetarian diet. The earth was warm and humid. Vegetation thrived. Scientists believe that these beings were tree-dwellers, and had not yet evolved to bipedalism. The evolution of walking on two legs may have began 4 million years ago. Evidence of early hominids have been discovered in Kenya. Hominids are related to apes through the superfamily of Homonoids, and diverged from them around 6 million years ago. Homo erectus was the first hominid to migrate out of Africa, to China and Java by 1.2 million years ago. (http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/Paleontology/Paleozoology/FossilHominids/Humankind/Humankind.htm).
Within the realm of the communal Forest Perfect, there was unity and cooperation. The social climate was one of a peaceful existence. With abundance prevalent, violence was absent. In this matriarchal society, there was a “non-violent social order, without the exploitation of humans, animals and nature, in which all living creatures” were respected (http://www.hagia.de/kngr_e.pdf).
The forest was void of competition, and lacked sexual boundaries. The complete immersion in Nature centered on a Mother Goddess. The sacred gift of life began there, and fertility was worshipped. The Mother provided food, shelter, protection. She was the sacred economy that permeated Forest Perfect. She was the source. She supplied what was fundamental to the hominoid’s survival. Therefore, she was sacred and god-like. With a communal matriarchal culture, there were no goods to exchange and no need for competition (Class notes, 9/9/04).
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels theorized that Primitive Communism was present in the setting of what I have named, Forest Perfect. There was reciprocity and all
resources were shared (http://www.geocities.com/CapitalHill/Lobby/3909/primitiv.html). As earth changes took place, around 6 million years ago, and again around 3 million years ago, the climate became more dry. Scarcity began. Need intensified, because it was harder to meet it. As the species evolved, they came down from the trees and became bipedalists in order to survive, to run and hunt. Labor divisions were created and this ended the communal haven, Forest Perfect (Class notes, 9/9/04).
The painting I created, Forest Perfect, reveals the communal aspects of the primitive society. I used the Elements of Art (Line, Color, Shape, Value and Form) and Principles of Design (Pattern, Repetition, Contrast, Harmony and Unity) to represent the forest and the vegetation that provided all. They also demonstrate parts working together for the whole. I used repetition, in particular, of line, color and shape, to create unity and balance.
I was inspired by photographs of my own gardens, in which I get a escapist glimpse of peaceful, ancestral Forest Perfect. When I am working with the earth, I feel very connected and more able to feel a sense of calmness and peace. I experience a grand, yet quiet, sense of oneness and reprieve when I paint. As long as I am not thinking about making a buck……I truly lose my sense of self when that is my motivation.
The Sacred Hoop of Life of the Lakota is layered within my painting, symbolizing balance and direction, and my patterns are inspired by the glorious works of the Australian Aboriginal artist, Bronwyn Bancroft, in the book, Dreamtime: Aboriginal Stories (Lothrop, Lee & Shephard Books, NY, 1993). My dreamtime sculpture was also
inspired by these works (http://steveadamsomaha.tripod.com/JdoeOmaha/JII_Pages/Dreamtime_Doe.html).
The desire for the peaceful existence of Forest Perfect has never left our memory. There are remnants of it in our actions, thoughts, and throughout art, literature and religions of the world. The Garden of Eden, as described in the Bible, was given to man and woman so that they could use their creative power to preserve harmony and order in the world, where all production would be beautiful and giving. There was plenty, and all
needs were met (http://websyte.com/unity/KTLS21.HTM). In Genesis 1:29, “God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (http://www.biblegateway.com/).
Aboriginal stories tell of a perfect time when creation began. This sacred world, called the Dreamtime, was the beginning, when the Mother Eingana, the world creator, the birth mother, made all water, land and animals. She was and still is alive in the Dreamtime, and is a huge snake goddess that continues to rise up and create life. It is believed that her energies, and the force behind the first creations, can be tapped when one is in need of creative power. The Aborigines have many tales of Mother Goddesses and feminine creators. Everything was created from the same feminine source. She is possibly the oldest spiritual image. The serpent of unity and peaceful cooperation
Venus of Willendorf (c. 24,000 b.c.e.) is a sculpture piece depicting a stone age woman. She is believed to be a fertility symbol, possibly a good luck charm, and she represented a mother goddess/deity of a prehistoric society (http://www.students.sbc.edu/matyseksnyder04/Prehistoric_Art.html).
Native American cultures have long spoken of a Mother Earth, a feminine force to be respected. The longing for peace is evident as well in tales and myths of the people. There is a residual memory present of a time when the earth was not in despair, when the mother was taken care of and honored. Traditional teachings illustrate communal practices and particularly emphasize that we cannot “practice conspicuous consumption nor could our people produce unnecessary waste of any kind.” This damaging of the earth and it’s order affect her balance and unity.
Teachings also “include the beliefs that we are all related and should always love one another, that we should live in balance and harmony with all of creation, that the Earth we walk upon is our Earth Mother and she is sacred and she should be treated as such.” Respect for ourselves must also be present. The Mother was created “perfect,
clean, pristine and beautiful.” There is a yearning for the Forest Perfect to return, initiated by a memory of it (http://www.elements.nb.ca/theme/waste/danennis/ennis.htm).
A Yuchi tale, from a Southeastern American Indian tribe, explores the Mother Goddess who provides all in a calm and giving setting. She was a creator, “You are my children, I am your mother, I will make the light. I will shine for you.” The people searched the trees of the forest in which they dwelled for the great medicine they needed to survive. The cedar tree provided them a great medicine, and eventually fire with which they could cook their gifts from the Mother (http://www.earthbow.com/native/gallinomero/spirit.htm).
The tree as sacred is prevalent as well throughout many cultures. The center of the forest, the Mother, the tree of life. “Trees symbolize fertility, life and death. The Mother.” The tree has been recognized since the beginning of time as a symbol of life, regeneration and sacred knowledge. Primitive people relied on the tree for shelter, food, clothing and
later heat and tools. The tree symbolizes the Mother Goddess (http://www.fantasy-ireland.com/Celtic-tree-of-life.html).
It was as a source of Enlightenment for Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha born 2,500 years ago. He had everything he could want, was very wealthy. He felt an emptiness, however, and sought life outside the palace where he lived. He sought solace under a Bodhi tree, where he felt truth revealed to him and he connected, or re-connected, with a great sense of peace and release. “One of the things that he discovered is that very often people make themselves and others unhappy because they are always wanting and needing things.” Being free of things could bring peace and happiness one seeks (http://www.assemblies.org.uk/standing/world_religions/wr_buddha.html).
The symbolism of the Tree of Life is evident in ancient Israel (an ancient Canaanite religion devoted to the mother goddess, Asherah, who was associated with trees), in ancient Greece (tree spirits in female form) and Rome, in the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Koran, and in Norse and Egyptian Mythology. Pagan worship of trees as generating fertility are found still today (http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Tree-of-Life). The sacred tree of life is in spoken of in both Genesis and the book of Revelation of St. John in The Bible. In Genesis, the tree provides what is needed, and also represents knowledge. The tree is in the middle of the garden, the central focus, the sacred. The Revelation “describes a Tree of Life with twelve fruits (for the twelve signs of the zodiac) that yields every month, and branches whose leaves shelter and heal all nations of humanity
Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux Holy Man who had a vision for his people. He was nine years old when he realized that the ideal peace that his people desired and
perhaps genetically remembered was being threatened. He envisioned all beings living together in harmony, and centered around “one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of the earth.” The Sacred Tree of Life again appears as the all-providing fertility goddess of Forest Perfect (http://www.imagecarft.com/fourwinds/Blackelk.html).
Marija Gimbutas was an archeologist that challenged the male dominated world of archeology by illuminating ancient female images as evidence of an age of matriarchy. “She stated that this matriarchy was a time of peace, of co-existence and of culture because such civilised [sic] values were central to the lives of women.” They were “inspired by the gentle influence of the goddess, “ and lived in an “age free of strife.” Gimbutas believed that this culture ended when the communal society began to fail, and hunting, warfare and violence took its place. One matriarchal society was that of the Amazon women who lived north of the Black Sea and were consecrated to Cybelle, the Mother Goddess of Nature (http://www.macha.free-online.co.uk/7day-extracts/amazons.html).
In the 1960’s, Gimbutas unearthed evidence of peaceful civilizations living in Western Europe before 3,000 b.c.e. This would not have been Forest Perfect, but reflects the innate desire to live within the peaceful community it embodied. It provides an inspiring thought that Forest Perfect could be cyclical. “Gimbutas discovered evidence strongly suggesting that these peaceful civilizations worshipped the Earth as a Mother Goddess. She found almost no evidence of gender oppression or gender apartheid.” Gimbutas believed that the “Goddess was nurturing, protective and fostered a society that was basically non-violent.” The very economy of Forest Perfect continued to influence and inspire. (http://www.amazonation.com/Gimbutas.html).
Is it possible that the desire to live peacefully can make it so? Is the desire I crave for simplicity, renewal, a returning to the Earth, to Nature, a genetic memory? An innate, creative piece of Forest Perfect? I get glimpses of what it might be like to not need and want, to be fulfilled. They are fleeting, and so transparent sometimes that they are missed completely. I believe it is possible to achieve a sense of peace here and now, a slice of Forest Perfect. I think collective conscious can make it so, on some level. I think far too many people remember it, desire it, call for it, for it to be totally unreachable.
We must work together for it to be achieved. Is that possible in our current economic state? I don’t think so, but I think that universally, thought can change thought, and circumstance. I accept, however, that nothing is permanent. The peace of Forest Perfect may live within us, but can it be present without causing a horrible imbalance? Peace, as all things are, is cyclical and constantly changing. I felt this very strongly when I was painting Forest Perfect. It will never be finished. It will constantly ask for more of me, and then let me rest a bit before peacefully tormenting me further.
By Stephanie A. Carlson-Pruch 2004
'We don't own the land, the land owns us.
The Land is my mother, my mother is the land.
Land is the starting point to where it all began.
It is like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started
and this is where I will go.
The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity'
http://aboriginalart.com.au/culture/dreamtime2.html Related web sites:
*Early species http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/Sciences/Paleontology/Paleozoology/FossilHominids/Humankind/Humankind.htm
Gaia: The Earth Mother (Greek)
~Orphic Hymn to Gaia~
translated and interpreted by Virginia Stewart, M.Ed.
http://www.paleothea.com/SortaSingles/Gaia.html Oh Goddess, Source of Gods and Mortals,
All-Fertile, All-Destroying Gaia,
Mother of All, Who brings forth the bounteous fruits and flowers,
All variety, Maiden who anchors the eternal world in our own,
Immortal, Blessed, crowned with every grace,
Deep bosomed Earth, sweet plains and fields fragrant grasses in the nurturing rains,
Around you fly the beauteous stars, eternal and divine,
Come, Blessed Goddess, and hear the prayers of Your children,
And make the increase of the fruits and grains your constant care,
with the fertile seasons Your handmaidens,
Draw near, and bless your supplicants.
Mother’s Words (Native American) Spirit Wings, 1995 http://www.geocities.com/katevo.geo/mother.html
I long to live where the trees are taller that all else.
Where the earth shall meet my needs.
Here shall I harvest and plant.
Here shall I live with, not against, all that surrounds me.
I will walk the paths made by the bears and all that walks upon hooves.
The mountain shall be my home. The valley shall be my porch.
I shall forever be envious of the eagle's view.
There is not much that escapes his sight.
Here beneath the cedars shall my spirit be free and unrestricted to wander within the Forest's spirit.
I shall hear the Earth as she speaks, gently whispering...
I am the foundation of all that is.
My waters shall you drink.
I shall nurture you, shelter you, clothe you, feed you,
Embrace you, inspire you, and challenge you.
All that I would ask of you in return is that you embrace me in Love
Respect me for I am old.
Forbid your hand and your feet to destroy needlessly,
For when I die, so shall all of you.
A long time ago, in the Dreamtime, before there were men or animals, plants or any other thing, there was the Rainbow Serpent which was the mother of us all.
She moved around in the darkness before there was the sun and the moon in the sky, and created mountain ranges, and deep channels where her great body wound its way.
Where she thrashed her tail great rifts appeared, and there were great hollows where her body had lain sleeping.
After a time, the Rainbow Serpent decided that it was time to create life for the world. So at the place called Uluru (Ayers Rock), she gave birth.
She gave birth to the Frog tribe and the Kingfisher tribe. But the Kingfisher people couldn’t see to fly and the Frog people didn’t have any water to live in.
The Rainbow serpent told the Kingfisher people what they must do. The Kingfisher flew up into the sky and shot down at the Rainbow Serpent’s head, splitting it asunder with his long, sharp beak.
Out of her stomach leaped all the animal tribes of the world, and all the spirit beings.
The sun leaped up into the sky to light the world for the tribes, and the moon jumped up to take his place in the night sky.
The Frog tribe started singing with delight as the blood of the Serpent flowed out of her body and into the channels cut by her travels, and into the deep chasms to become the sea.
The vibrant rainbow-coloured scales of the Serpent flew up into the bright sky to become a flock of rainbow lorikeet tribe, and the image of her colours was left on the sky as the rainbow, the reminder to all the tribes of their common mother. http://home.iprimus.com.au/lunetta/index-18.html
Dreaming painting by women from the Warlpiri Tribe http://ishop2.ilisys.com.au/product_image/aborit/1049429618_01143093.jpg