(Essay) Oracular Goddess: Image of Potent Creativity by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

oracular-goddess-p-99-austenI can only wonder at the minds that created such an image as this, as I do about many other images kin to Her, across cultures: my mind reaches to take in the artist’s comprehension – what poetry filled them, what is being expressed in the symbols and patterns, and in the placement of them on Her body? It is surely a deep reality and story beyond the one that I grew up with, and even after so many years on a Goddess path I feel I only skim the surface. I need this image of Her on my wall writ large, in my everyday reality, so I can imagine! … so I can be imbued with Her magic, Her spell: this is how I will learn more deeply about being and becoming, how I may be nurtured by Her wisdom and power, which is ever-creative.

The work of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas documents such patterns and motifs in detail, as she found them repeated across Old Europe on figurines and pottery, and in weaving.[1] I am indebted to Hallie Iglehart Austen for her presentation and imaginings of this clay Goddess figure in The Heart of the Goddess,[2] where Hallie names Her as “The Oracular Goddess”,[3] and tells that She is from Klicevak, Yugoslavia, fourth – second millennia B.C.E. She was lost during World War 1, and I have felt drawn to have Her shown again.

The patterns and motifs on Her body associate Her with birds, snakes, vulvas, and the fertility of rain and Earth. Her breasts and ears are like large receivers or containers, Her eyes, throat and nipples radiate concentric circles. The repetition of three – circles, triangles, strands to Her necklace; the rich zig-zag on Her waist, hips and skirt; the chevrons on Her crown; are all special Goddess symbols of regenerativity, a potent creativity, especially when assembled together in this one figure. She surely signifies a powerful presence.

The ears are able to hear – Her listening is important. The breasts are represented as powerful by the nature of their receptivity, their capacity to relate and embrace: such an alien conception of power in most present global cultures. The emphasized and wide open eyes may receive photons of light into the whole bodymind, and receive vision from the dark sentient depths of being and cosmos. The emphasized throat may exuberantly express the tide of inspiration and insight as it arises, without inhibition. The emphasized nipples may feed and nourish generously without hesitation: and all the while, She remains in Her power. Indeed this is understood as the very nature of power: again, so alien to most present cultural understandings of power across the globe. And many of us reading this (including myself as I write) have deeply absorbed and incorporated “heroic” narratives of “power”, which have alienated us (for generations) from the comprehension of power innate to any and all being.

This Oracular Goddess image seems to me to represent

an organic power, that each being must have. It is a creative potency that is felt and desires expression. I consider it an ultimate category: … written as “Creative Potency”. It is a direct participation in the Creative Cosmos: there are no gurus or cultures or legislations here in between … it is innate to coming into being.[4]

To embody Her, this apparent power to be and become, one’s mind would need to be fed good food … yet in most present cultural contexts, even as we drown in information, we are mostly mal-nourished. What may happen if more of us surrounded ourselves with such images? What knowledge may be absorbed by the bodymind?

This Goddess’s mouth is bird-like and wide open: it could be that of an owl, which is commonly represented in that period and place – a bird of the night and wisdom; and perhaps as well, as Hallie Iglehart Austen suggests, it may imply “the power of creation by sound, singing the world into being”,[5] as other Primordial Goddesses from around the globe have done. Perhaps then She is an image of the Great Creatrix Herself, a model of ultimate deity, source and destiny of all. Perhaps we may consider the detail of Her image to be expressive of a perception of the origin of life, its sustenance and its ever-renewing essence. Perhaps the contemplation of this Oracular Goddess may be evocative of what Creative Potency really is – a power often named as “fertility”, but which may be comprehended multivalently. May Her presence evoke potent creativity, so needed in these times.

© Glenys Livingstone 2016


[1] See Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the GoddessGoddesses and Gods of Old Europe, and The Living Goddesses.

[2] Also available in large part at: http://heartgoddess.net

[3] In the “Transformation – Trance” section, p.99.

[4] Glenys LivingstoneRe-Visioning Mythologies of Gender/Sexhttp://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/re-visioning-mythologies-of-gender-sex/

[5] The Heart of the Goddess, p.98.


Gimbutas, Marija. The Living Goddesses. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999.

______________ The Language of the Goddess. NY: HarperCollins, 1991.

______________ Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982.

Iglehart Austen, Hallie. The Heart of the Goddess. Berkeley: Wingbow Press, 1990.

Livingstone, Glenys. Re-Visioning Mythologies of Gender/Sex. Goddess Pages, Winter 2008, issue 9, pp.10-12.

Glenys Livingstone Ph.D. is the author of PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion, which fuses indigenous tradition of Old Europe with science, feminism and a poetic relationship with place. Glenys has been on a Goddess path since 1979. Glenys contributed to Goddesses in World Culture (ed. Patricia Monaghan), and Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement (edited by Miriam Robbins Dexter and Vicki Noble). Glenys lives in Australia, where she has facilitated Seasonal ceremony for over two decades, taught classes and mentored apprentices. She teaches a year-long on-line course, and recently produced PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs. Glenys’s website is http://pagaian.org

Read Meet Mago Contributor Glenys Livingstone.

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Glenys, I am fascinated by this particular image of the goddess and your imaginings. Think of the amount of time it took to create such a powerful and mysterious figure. We feminists have to keep this goddess tradition alive until there is a bigger crack in the patriarchal construct than there is now. Maybe then we can begin to see her as the Creatrix she is. Lovely essay – thank you.

Glenys D. Livingstone

thank you Sara … I think more are leaving the old boy paradigm, which is why he is doing more huffing and puffing: it seems that the old boy IS cracking up haha!

Celtic Soul

Wonderful essay Glenys. I too pour over these images and imagine the women who shaped and created them and their rituals and ceremonies!