Somatically inspired movement and prepatriarchal religious symbolism | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2051-7068
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7076



In this article I examine how religious symbolism is enacted in movement underpinned by somatic awareness, but, of note, a matrifocal religious symbolism – certainly holistic symbols that pre-date patriarchal religion, such as the circle, water, spiral, serpent and womb. Although these symbols continue to live on, somewhat transformed in patriarchal religions, I observe it is symbols related to the re-emergence and reconstruction of the palaeolithic and neolithic Goddess, painstakingly and contentiously unearthed through critical feminist voices, that play a more creative role in the pedagogies of movement-based somatics. The first part of this article examines the palaeolithic and neolithic Goddess, where the female principle is positioned as the source and genesis of religious symbolism; the second part weaves together how prepatriarchal symbols are embedded in ontogenetic and phylogenetic somatic movement exploration. While there is much popular literature on polytheistic Goddess pantheons in neopagan, wiccan and new-age spiritual movements, I turn my attention in this article to the prehistoric Goddess, articulating key ideas from scholars working in archaeology, critical feminism and cultural history, such as Irwin Thompson, Marija Gimbutas, Sjöö and Mor, Merlin Stone, and Carol Christ. Here I explore how somatic movement dance education is not a direct expression of the prehistoric prepatriarchal Goddess (nor an appropriation), but does engage and enact some of the world’s most primordial religious symbolism, in turn reflecting the prehistoric Goddess and Her more-than-human cellular matrix.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): dance; ecosomatic; Goddess; mother-creatress; neolithic; palaeolithic; prepatriarchy
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