I recently read a most fascinating book 'Cities of Dreams - When Women Ruled the Earth' by Stan Gooch. Totally facinating, so please read on:
Mr Gooch presents a convincing and compelling theory of ancient world cultures and why many symbols and stories are shared by seemingly unconnected societies. In a nutshell he proposes neanderthal and cro-magnon interbred to produce modern humans or at the very least our core belief systems originated with neanderthal and were adopted and modified by cro-magnon .
The key points to remember are: neanderthals were left handed, mostly nocturnal, moon worshippers and matriarchal while cro-magnons were right handed, diurnal, sun worshippers and patriarchal. Cro-magnons migrated into Europe where the neanderthals were firmly established around the end of last ice age. They co-mingled and cro-magnons adopted neanderthals beliefs and symbolism but over time lost their original meanings. To neanderthal the moon is represented by red, spiders, the square cross (circle with a + sign inside) water and as a goddess (female).
A radically condensed sampling of evidence:
Red comes from red-ochre and is held sacred in most ancient societies. To the neanderthals it represented blood and the menstrual cycle which in turn was associated with the moon. And as we enter the world covered in blood, they painted their dead with red-ochre before burial. Cro-magnun adopted and spread the practice worldwide. Mind you red-ochre isn't just laying around exposed on the ground, you have to dig for it, and know where to dig.
The square cross symbolized the moon and its 4 quarters and/or cardinal directions. This is where the spider comes in. Neanderthals believed the moon deity spawned a spider who in turn spun the world into existence. If you look at the center of a spider web you'll see the square cross! This eventually evolved into the various cross symbols, Maltese, christian cross, and swastika. The square cross is still used to represent the moon in astrology. Hitler even adopted it along with the familiar red, white & black, all colors of the moon. Weird huh? Gets even more tangled...
Labyrinths and dancing. Found all over the world, represents the spiderweb, usually 7 rings and enter on the left. The spider spins a web from the left and 'dances' around the supporting threads during construction. Therein later religions incorporate the labyrinth and one dances, chants or strolls from the left to the center and back out.
Zodiac. The neanderthal zodiac consisted of 13 divisions based on the lunar calendar and yes the spider figures in there somehow. This is why 13 keeps popping up, judge/ jury, Jesus/disciples, Jewish manhood at 13, Arthur/Round Table.
Now this is the point were it really takes off. Cro-magnons who weren't very ritualistic wanted to adopt the neanderthals 'magical powers' & ways but they retooled them into their way of thinking. So out with female importance, replaced by gods, male leaders, and generally making women second class citizens. This is when menstruation became unclean and women were untouchable during their periods etc. Replaced the 13 zodiac with 12. Worshipped the sun. Favored right handedness over left. All root words in various languages for 'right' always are positive words while roots of 'left' are weak, worthless and womaness!
Subsequently all the many secret, semi-secret and heretical movements that followed all sprung from the desire to recapture fragments from the Old Religion, Ancient Knowledge and Fertility Rites. They really had no idea or understanding of what they were guarding and passing down. But they did know it was very ancient.
He even argues that Christianity was an attempt to restore the Virgin Moon, the female principle, but attitudes had changed during its formation, the male principle & sun worship dominated but they were determined to pass down the core of ancient traditions (the magical path) in a form that while hidden, if one looked hard enough would recognize it for what it was.
There's lots more 'coincidences' and evidence of cro-magnons amongst us in the book. I highly recommend you read it, it'll change your world perspective. It sure did mine.