(Essay) Commemorating Our Ancient Mothers by Danica Anderson

Danica Anderson Memorial day quote imageMemorial Day for me is commemorating our ancient mothers. These artifacts standing together remind me of the empowerment and great balancing of life with female solidarity lost to us today. This is for all the mothers, daughters who died under the patriarchy.

Ossuaries are oral memory practices assuring rest, peace, and respect;—all sanctuary properties associated with the domovi for South Slavs. Patterned after the megalithic dolmens, ossuaries are modern-era icons of megalithic dolmens containing the bleached bones of departed ancestors. Within the Serbian Orthodox memorial liturgies, the practice for bleaching bones is evident in the memorial cycle.

“The ritual of collecting the bones years after the person’s death and placing them in ossuaries is still practiced in southern Europe, in eastern Europe (Slavic countries). The burial soon after death was considered temporary. But elaborate memorial services take place on the third, ninth and fortieth days after death and again six months and one year after death. The female relative of the deceased gather at the grave for an hour of crying and singing and a ritual food called koliva, a mixture of boiled wheat, sugar, cinnamon, nuts and raisins is distributed. The decaying flesh must disappear, purified by the powers of destruction. Only then can it being the journey to the ancestors. Exhumation of the body is women’s work.” Dr. Marija Gimbutas

These figures come from Ain Ghazal, which is a Neolithic site located in North-Western Jordan, on the outskirts of Amman. It dates as far back as 7250 BCE, and was inhabited until 5000 BCE. It’s one of the largest known prehistoric settlements in the Near East.

Read Meet Mago Contributor Danica Anderson.

Editor’s Note: Although Danica’s comment was about Memorial Day in the USA, other similar days are commemorated in other countries at different times of the year. We don’t need to wait for one of these day; at any time we can commemorate our ancient mothers and remember our mothers and daughters who died under patriarchy.