Out of Time
A video on the life and work of Marija Gimbutas
Reviewed by Leslene della Madre for Awakened Woman, an online 'zine
Several years ago, a Canadian filmmaker, Donna Read, completed
a trilogy of films about women's spirituality -- Goddess
Remembered, The Burning Times and Full Circle.
These films are a must-see for anyone interested in herstorical
perspectives. They are a combination of deep inspiration, painful
reality about the women's holocaust during the witch-burning
times and intelligent conversation about women's ways, herstory
and spirituality. In my opinion, they should be in every history
Donna Read collaborated with Starhawk in her most recent endeavor,
Signs Out of Time, narrated by Olympia Dukakis. This
video is a biographical glimpse of the Lithuanian-born, late,
eminent archeologist, historian, scientist and linguist, Marija
Gimbutas, whose work on Old European Neolithic cultures (6500-3500
BCE) will one day be seen as brilliant, when the current backlash
against her washes away in the cleansing waters of time. Indeed,
the current misaligning of her work can only be happening now
because her work is threatening to the status quo of patriarchy
-- that which insists on domination and power-over.
Marija Gimbutas, an expert on Bronze-age weaponry for many years,
came to the conclusion that she no longer wanted to study implements
of war. Ill with lymphoma, she felt her illness was related
to the energy of the weapons she had been studying for so long.
She changed the course of her work. She decided to find out,
without preconceptions, what happened in Europe before the Bronze
Age. She eventually named the area of her focused study -- southeastern
Europe, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy -- "Old Europe."
She did not identify herself as a feminist when she set out
on her exploration, yet she blazed a powerful feminist trail,
literally unearthing the evidence of the Goddess of great and
profound antiquity -- She who predates all world-religions and
rests at the dawn of human emergence. From evidence of 3,000
sites and tens of thousands of sculptures and figurines, she
pieced together the patterns of a primordial, self-generating
female deity. The theme of unity of all life with nature was
undeniable to her -- something we must surely remember lest
we destroy ourselves at this juncture in our collective experience
on this planet.
Sings Out of Time tells not only the story of her life;
it also reveals Marija Gimbutas' theories of pre-Bronze Age
cultures which she claims were characterized by peace, woman-honoring,
Goddess-worshipping and egalitarianism -- civilizations that
existed for thousands of years without war. For her claims about
the Goddess and woman-centered cultures, she suffered ridicule
by those who had previously held her in high esteem as long
as she focused on weaponry research.
In her bold and courageous approach, using her intuition to
read and see the legacy of the Goddess, Gimbutas invented her
own field of study, archeomythology, to embrace her experience
and vision. As her one-time colleague-turned opponent, Colin
Renfrew, said in the video, "everything became the Goddess
for Marija." Yes, exactly. Renfrew was saying this as a
criticism, and followed it with a reference to her using a rather
feminine way of looking at things. Yes, exactly. Not to his
liking, however. It was a particularly poignant and rather humorous
(though unintentional on Renfrew's part) moment in the video
because it revealed the true essence of the patriarchal mind
and its fear of women's ways of knowing.
The film chronicles her journey as a young woman and mother
fleeing Soviet and Nazi invasions of her beloved Lithuania,
eventually emigrating to the United States in 1949 with her
husband and daughters. Marija candidly admits that her marriage
was not a very good one. Though there is a very short piece
with her daughters, I would have liked to have seen more of
them and heard more from their perspective about their mother.
It was not an easy life for them, and I think it would be valuable
to know more about their feelings and experiences as children
of a well-known figure such as their mother was. There are also
interviews with scholars, feminists and colleagues who have
all been profoundly influenced by her extraordinary work.
If you are interested in learning about the truth of human origins
and culture, this video essentially sets the record straight,
since what we have been taught as history is criminally negligent
of the truth. Not only does it show us about the life and work
of a remarkable woman, it also encourages us to see that what
Marija Gimbutas uncovered in her work is exactly the medicine
we need for the deeply woeful and sorrowful times in which we
live. Knowing that we have the cellular memory of peaceful,
woman-honoring cultures from our earliest ancestors in our bones
gives us the wisdom to know what we must do to change the world.
Thank you, Marija.
Review by Frodo Okulam, Portland State University Film Department
live in a time when the resurgence of the Goddess is apparent
everywhere you turn. In art, history, spirituality, in the branching
backwaters of popular culture, she emerges, powerful and transforming.
None too soon, it seems to me, as the resilience of life on
Earth is being tested as never before, and we stand in need
of reconnection with her living being. But is the Goddess "real”?
I don’t mean real as an archetype, or really experienced today,
but real in her place in history, or rather prehistory, back
at the dawn of time. Because if she really was there, she can
be here again. This is the vital question the film answers so
"We can dream of a culture of harmony and peace, in balance
with Nature, but has there ever been one?” the narrator of Signs
Out of Time asks. "Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas said
yes.” This is the story of how she arrived at that conclusion.
Through interviews, archival film and photographs, animation,
visual and audio narrative, the story of Gimbutas and her research
is told here for a new generation.
Excavating in Yugoslavia, Greece, and Italy from 1967-1980,
Gimbutas discovered at least 500 sculptures dating from 6500
BCE to 3500 BCE. She personally "proved by spade,” as she
puts it in the film, that "the primordial deity for our
ancestors was female: a self-generating Goddess, Giver of Life,
Wielder of Death, and Regeneratrix. She was the unity of all
life in Nature. She is the metaphor of the living Earth.” In
all of the Neolithic, Gimbutas says, the cultures were peaceful.
There is no depiction of warfare or single combat anywhere in
the archeological record of this age.
Needless to say, this theory was controversial. One of the hidden
delights of this film is an interview with Gimbutas’ colleague
and later critic, Colin Renfrew. It is so much fun to watch
him dig himself a rhetorical hole and then fall in it! Fitting,
perhaps, for an archaeologist! In contrast, the esteem of people
like cosmologist Brian Swimme for Gimbutas comes across clearly.
Swimme says he doubted at first: he could not imagine a time
that was free from war. But then he examined what she said,
and "it was a deeply religious experience.” Interviews
with Carol Christ, Elinor Gadon, Charlene Spretnak, and more
enrich the film.
The highlight, though, are the interviews with Gimbutas herself.
She glows with intelligence, warmth, and enthusiasm, bringing
her love for the living Goddess clearly to light. When she was
a child in Lithuania, she says, "women and men were kissing
Earth in the morning… You must respect Earth.” Gimbutas’ life
story is powerful, from her beginnings studying folksongs in
Lithuania to her escape with her "baby in one arm, dissertation
in the other;” from her cool reception at Harvard in the 1950s
where she was allowed to research, but was barred from many
campus facilities, to her emergence as the preeminent authority
on Old Europe in the United States during her years as professor
Gimbutas was embraced by the feminist movement and criticized
roundly by her colleagues for her sweeping theories about the
language of the Goddess she decoded in prehistoric signs and
symbols. Her background in ethnography and her grounding in
the culture of Lithuania allowed her to see things scholars
with less breadth of experience did not see. Even in her high
school years, as she collected over 5,000 folksongs, she says
"I started to understand what is the ancient song. You
sang while you did everything, and your song was the Earth.”
Marija Gimbutas brought that ancient song into our modern world,
and transcribed it in her books for all of us to learn. This
film does for Gimbutas’ books what Peter Jackson’s does for
the Lord of the Rings. Gimbutas’ work shines in a new
light through the work of Donna Read and Starhawk. Signs Out
of Time will grab your heart. Its message will change the world.
The Byrne Report 1-25-06
Sonoma county, CA journalist Peter
Byrne's column "Killer Regeneratrix" addresses
feminism in the modern age and the need for a resurgence of
activism in the femnist movement, while holding up the often
overlooked work of Marija Gimbutas as a model for what did once
exist and perhaps can be possible again. Included is a paragraph
asessing Signs Out of Time.
from people who've seen Signs Out Of Time
big thank you to those of you who were able to attend and support
last nights screening of Signs Out Of Time. I saw many
familiar faces in the fully packed audience and later spoke
to many old friends. It was an unforgettable evening of dialogue
and opinion ranging from the
hierarchal scientific attitude, (archeologist and social anthropologist)
to the creative feminist visionary . Many women spoke to the
profound effect of Marija's work as creating meaning in their,
and their childrens lives. One had tears in her eyes.
-Ann-Rosemary Conway, Dreamhill Studio, Victoria, BC
sit and watch their faces: Halina from Poland who lived in Germany,
Canada, Belgium, Paris, Chicago, Italy, Gary-Indiana; Danielle
born in Quebec who lived near the Metropolitan Museum in New
York City and was too frightened to go out after dark; Margaret
who grew up in Verdun and has danced in Mexico and still hears
the celtic songs from Ireland stirring her heart. They are watching
Marija via DVD. Marija Gimbutas, the archeologist who dug in
the dirt of Europe and discovered thousands of figures of women
made out of clay and metal. Marija whose synthestic vision of
the world, knowing deeply that there was and could be a time
when women lived in peace with men, men who didn't make plowhares
into swords, who lived cooperatively and shared equally, the
partnership model Riane Eisler popularized after Marija's death.
sit and watch the interviews Riane did with Marija. We can hear
her voice and her laughter as she recalls the happy moments
of discovery in the midst of the absurd, like Harvard University
giving her an office but never hiring her on staff. Halina recalls
her mother still hanging on to life at 94 right now in Chicago,
as a young housewife humming tunes similar to those now coming
from the TV, the tunes to which the people are still dancing
at times of harvest, celebrating the abundance of the earth.
sit and work on my patchwork squares as different experts heads
fill the screen to admire or criticize Marija's life work. I
wonder who will care about my life's work, who will even know.
Will anyone ever dig like Marija. What will remain?
remembers her Grandmother polishing the brass knocker on the
door of her house every morning, really a pretext to stand out
on the stoop and talk to neighbours. Margaret starts washing
the dishes, the white with blue and bits of shocking pink, from
our dinner while Marija's story unfolds, the images of women's
breasts, stomachs, hips, vulvas move across the TV screen in
this film made by Donna Read and Starhawk.
fold the bright pink napkins from our meal, in between
working on my square, feeling the different fabrics under my
hands and smile at the automatic sensual response of my body.
I look down in my lap and see the featherstitch my great grandmother
taught me when I was 3 years old growing across the square I
am creating. I look up at the TV screen and see the featherstitch
move across the pots and the statues of the goddess. I think
of all of those who sent in money to make this film possible
and feel grateful.
talks about the painting she has been dreaming, bigger than
anything she has created to date. She is getting closer to starting
this project. The TV is filled with people dancing, singing,
the earth, the sky, men, women, children laughing and singing
look at their faces, the faces on the TV screen, Marija's face
laughing, Halina's face still beautiful with her lines, Danielle's
beauty shining through her freckles, Margaret's framed with
her luxurious hair, all full of hope.
you Marija. Thank you Donna. Thanks to the goddess in us all.
Donna and Star,
wonderful! Your film is so compelling, such a creative version
of Marija's ideas, so visually rich and exciting, so accessible.
I was thrilled to see footage of Marija and hear in her own
words what she found.
liked the connection you make with the digs, the artifacts,
and the language of the goddess. I know your video will popularize
Marija's startling revolution about our earliest cultures.
hope it's shown on PBS and worldwide. I'd like to help you and
CIIS promote the film and CIIS event in the Bay Area. You need
two months or more to do this well.I have a decade of experience
in public relations and twenty years as a journalist. I've pitched
to the Bay Area and national media and organized ten large special
start with a plan that you will need to sign off on before I
begin. I'd focus on the press, radio and TV, and try to get
interviews. Although, all of my work concerns fundraising now,
for your project, I'm interested in getting the message out!
all at Belili Productions for the fantastic film Signs Out
Of Time. We're using it as a tool here in Sarasota, FL
to introduce people to, the magnificent Marija!!
Neale and Nick Manolukas
2004 An Olympic Odyssey
Donna and Nash --
from soggy Vermont, where the snow's melting rapidly and the
world is covered with slush!
finally got to see Signs Out of Time earlier this week
(I don't have a TV at home) and it is just fabulous! Beside
the astounding imagery (it's very different to see so much of
it all in one hour than to see just a few book illustrations
at a time), I loved how the various themes kept spiraling around--the
biographical, historical/scholarly and metaphysical dimensions
seemed to keep circling with ever greater depth and illumination.
Quite amazing -- thanks so much for this!
to see all of you again very soon.
is what I believed before I watched Signs Out of Time
- peaceful living is possible, will come again and will be woman-inspired.
The force that is "greater-than-I" must, by nature,
be open, forgiving, fertile, inclusive, compassionate, respectful
of the earth and all creatures - female. Careful listening,
openness in observation, presence in relationship and the willingness
to trust one's ability to synthesize theory, fact, feeling,
myth and knowing require trust.
is what I know after watching Signs Out of Time - Marija
Gimbutas was blessed and her work inspired. We are closer than
I dared to dream.