Speech and Communication

Did women also develop the spoken language? From the earliest hunting-and-gathering times, we know that the men spent long, silent, and often solitary days away on the hunt. It takes silence to track animals. Meanwhile, the women worked collectively in or near the camp, surrounded by children, talking and singing. Language must have developed in the first intimate relations between mother and child, and between women working together for the kin-group’s daily sustenance…

….many mothers have the strong feeling that, following birth, it is speech that takes the place of the umbilical cord; it is speech that continues to bind us quite viscerally to the growing child, and through which passes the social food of instruction, warning, and communication with a growing consciousness….

The gathering of useful plants is an exercise in establishing a cultural taxonomy of nature, precisely that kind of activity likely to establish a list and a grammar of tailed tabulations of various plant and herbal properties – what is edible, what is poison, what is medicinal, what is hallucinogenic – and in transferring this information on to others; over generations an incredibly complex and replete botanic and pharmacopoeic catalog would be filed in each female mind….

𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑛𝑜 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛, 𝑆𝑡𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝐴𝑔𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑅𝑜𝑐𝑘 𝐴𝑔𝑒, 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑎𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑒.

….So, early women’s scientific language (because that’s what plant gathering is, a science) would be uttered side-by-side with the emotional language of social relations, and the physical language of the body moving through daily tasks.

Excerpt from “The Great Cosmic Mother” by Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor
Photo by @elliana_allon remixed by me!