Within the depths and darkness of the cave, prehistoric humans painted symbols and stories depicting fertility rites, allowing us to get a glimpse into their nature based culture.
Fertility rites are defined as 'religious rituals that reenact either actually or symbolically sexual acts and or reproductive processes.' In other words, sympathetic magic created to enhance procreation and abundance mainly in animal hunting, vegetation gathering and early cultivation. Observing prehistoric rock paintings from various places around the world it seems to me that we are looking at art that was part of ancient shamanic practices, a participatory art that was part of a process human beings participated in to communicate with forces of nature. The participative element seems important as part of the relationship between the life sustaining land and it's inhabitants.
What was the purpose the ancients carried out fertility rites? Was it a magic formula to obtain a good hunt? Was it a simple form of prayer, or was there more to the practice that actually engaged with the forces in the land?
In modern research into rock art it is thought that these sites may have been sought as isolated places where people went for periods of initiations. Many places in the world where rock art is still practised are considered to be sacred. 'The landscape, the peculiar characters of the site, the environment, the topography and other features may have been the source of the proper atmosphere for creating a communion between man and nature. Why just here? Is the question that should be asked about every rock art site. ' (Emanuel Anati, Rock art the primordial language).
I would like to look at two case studies of cave paintings from Southern Spain where studying the surrounding land geomantically has led me to see a possible link between earth energies and places where fertility rites are depicted.
The first is Cueva de la Pileta near Benaojan and the second is the Tajo de las Figuras cave complex near Benalup. Cueva de la Pileta is situated on the sierra de Libar, and is a 2.5 km cave with paintings ranging from 30.000 y 32.000 BC and the most recent ones between 4.000 y 5.000 years BC. Among the many paintings you can find horses, bulls, goats, and a big fish alongside semi-schematic sign and symbols. (http://www.cuevadelapileta.org). Exploring the cave's geomantic surrounding it is clear that it is a site with powerful telluric current flowing into it. This flow feels raw, sensual, like an orgasmic electromagnetic wave entering the cave. This wave is then met within the cave and I believe would have been harnessed as a fecundating force, and used in magical invocation.
I recently came across this text from John Lash, author of Not in His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief. 'My shamanic experiences at that locale over several years revealed that a wave of Gaian ecstasy often pours over the Sierra de Libar. "When Gaia goes into high rapture, in her extravagant aesthetic delight she creams over the Mountain of the Witches," I used tell those who came up to the Ridge. A spectacular rare display of the Organic Light in the atmosphere, Her orgasmic wave can be seen and felt in a superb way from there, looking north. The nectarine texture of the light becomes palpable a
s the granite mass seems to change before your eyes into soft, porous velvet. I have seen the entire length of the mountain chain (pictured here) ripple and dance like a snake.' He describes beautifully the very tangible experience of the earth at that place that is very palpable throughout the body.
Pregnant mare, cueva de la pileta
The complex at Tajo de las figuras also has a similar energy flow reaching it, though in this landscape the forces don't seem as intact as the ones in the Sierra de Libar. The dragon line that flows towards the cave at Tajo would have passed through an area of 13 dolmens, that are now mostly fallen. These dolmens would have acted as portals in the landscape, doorways through which human beings could pass through the veil. Gateways between the un-manifest and manifest world. When we began working there it seemed these doorways were nearly closed as the place is no longer used as a sacred place. Through months of geomantic explorations there we saw that the dragon line, coupled with our conscious participation became a form of 'key' that once turned enabled an energetic fertilisation in the landscape. Specifically, I saw with my inner vision an image of a wheel with many spokes that began turning and through it many animals came into the world. Later I realised that the image of a very similar wheel is painted on the walls of the main cave at Tajo de las figuras.
Does the earth have currents of 'sexual telluric energies' running through her surface ? Can we through ceremonial participation take part in the earth' s ecstasy, leading to creation? And what does that mean in our day and age when we are no longer hunters and gatherers and most of us don't practice agriculture.
What does rock art evoke in modern man? When we have become mostly spectators of art forms, does it touch a place in our collective memory that awakens something long forgotten? Does it beckon us to touch the Living earth and create with her?