The primary process  
Andre artikler
  A new approach to Stonehenge 1 (1992) (UK)  
  VUC Han-Syssel  


Few monuments have been exposed to more interpretations than Stonehenge. This article is an attempt to achieve further insight concerning the symbolic significance and the use of the monument by using the depth psychological concept of the primary process as the basis of the interpretation. (1) As a support of the depth psychological analysis, I shall draw parallels to other societies, especially the contemporary Scandinavian ones, whose rock carvings may contribute to a better understanding of prehistoric religious ways, not only in Scandinavia but also in Great Britain.
Another basis for this article is the assumption that people at all times have tried to affect their surroundings to improve the conditions of survival, and that in a non technological culture magic played a crucial part in the attempt to control the natural forces.
Where traditional archeology only reluctantly gives an opinion on anything but hard facts quite according to scientific tradition, my approach is another: I write within a humanistic tradition, where the archeological data are interpreted using a depth psychological concept apparatus. Obviously this approach has its advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages or rather the limitations are the lack of exactness. The danger is therefore that, by clinging to a certain interpretation, one can easily get into a situation where an exactness is proclaimed for which there is no support. When it comes to the description of concrete rites, uncertainty is of course very great.
Neither a dream nor a symbol can ever be interpreted thoroughly, no matter how careful an analysis it is exposed to. Of course the same applies to the utmost extent when it comes to a monument as complex as Stonehenge.
When I nevertheless make the analysis and interpretation on this basis, it is because I am certain that, in spite of all reservations, this method offers an opportunity to come nearer to an understanding of prehistoric people`s religions and ways of living. However, it is important to emphasize that the quality of the analysis and interpretation depends on the inner consistency and the consideration given to the data, and finally that the logic of the primary process is followed.

The Primary Process
The primary process is the original mode of mental functioning. The young child functions according to the primary process, and so do adults when the secondary process, that is the rational way of thinking, is suspended. For instance this happens in dreams, with artistic expansion and with religious, artistic, and sexual experiences.
The logic of the primary process is the logic of dreams, fairytales, and myths. It possesses great emotional intensity and is inexact, concrete, and imagery. As an example the sword and the tree can be imagery representations of two different attitudes to male sexuality as either something threatening or something life-giving.
In a total abandonment to the primary process no distinction exists between fantasy and reality nor between a person and his surroundings. Dreams, for instance, often seem to be reality to the dreamer, but dream-consciousness is not necessarily connected to the same person throughout the whole dream.
Finally there is the important fact that a feeling is not tightly connected to a certain concept. Displacement and condensation of feelings can take place, provided that there is a similarity between the concepts in question. Displacement of an amount of mental energy - intensity - from one concept to another that is similar can among other things be seen in sexual symbols. Similarity in shape and the fact that something can be surrounded by the object concerned is the reason why open containers, vases, jars, ovens, rooms etc can be female sexual symbols. By condensation the intensity of more than one concept is gathered in one place so that a symbol becomes ambiguous. A tree can be a male symbol because of the shape, and a female symbol because of its ability to bear fruit. And it can also have other meanings and have more than one meaning at the same time, so it is a part of the logic of the primary process that it is inexact. On the other hand the symbol is emotionally powerful because of its ambiguity and inexactness. A lover would more likely be successful if he promised the bride of his choice the moon and marvels, rather than a pair of new shoes.
Once more it must be emphasized that it is only possible that one thing can symbolize and represent another if they have something in common. In a total abandonment to the primary process the point is that the symbol is the symbolized, just as it is in the case of the Holy Communion, where the priest says of the bread and the wine that these are the body and blood of Christ.
Finally it should be noted that the rules of primary process logic are independent of culture, whereas the concrete symbols are dependent on culture.

Stonehenge I
Stonehenge was built in three main stages over a period of 2000 years. The first stage, Stonehenge I, was built in approximately 2800 BC.
It consisted of a circular 1-8m high bank with a 1-2m deep ditch on its outside edge. The outer circle has a diameter of 9lm. The entrance was orientated to the north east, a little north of the midsummer sunrise axis, marked with two stones and a line of four wooden posts (Atkinson, (1980) 1991, 1).
Outside the circle is a huge sarsen stone, the Heelstone. According to R.J.C.Atkinson this might have replaced another earlier stone (Atkinson, (1980) 1991, 4). The Heelstone is also situated north of the midsummer sunrise alignment. In l979 a hollow, which had contained a stone, was found east of the Heelstone.
Inside the bank, following the circle, are 56 pits, the Aubrey holes. They are about lm wide and deep and were refilled with chalk right after they had been dug out. They seem never to have held stones or posts. During an excavation in l920, cremated human bones, stone balls, and pins of bone were found.
Aubrey Burl writes in "The Stonehenge People" that Stonehenge I was built by the descendants of the local neolithic population. He is of the opinion that the first Stonehenge was a monument dedicated to a death and rebirth cult, in which the moon played a crucial part (Burl, 1987, 170). Accordingly the dominant astronomic lines of Stonehenge I were oriented to important moon positions (Burl, 1987, 140).
In "The Stone Circles of the British Isles" Aubrey Burl refers to M. Gimbutas, who claims that the moon was regarded as a female deity at the period of transition from a hunting culture to a farming culture.
This because the moon is just as ambiguous as the female nature embodying light as well as darkness, growth as well as decay. The moon goddess was a deity of life, death and fertility. She was self-sufficient and a creative and subversive principle in herself. She did not seem to be in need of anything outside herself to grow or to swell like the pregnant womb, so she seemed to be self-fertilizing (Burl, 1989, 310). Quite different from the later earth goddess, whose importance grew currently with the elaboration of farming, which made a more stationary way of living possible. This earth goddess was also a goddess of life, death and fertility but, unlike the moon goddess, she needed something outside herself - the sun - to be fertilized (Burl, 1989, 311).
Aubrey Burl points out that the function of the Heelstone at this time was as a marker. The hole beside the Heelstone does not indicate that there was another stone, but that the Heelstone was removed to find the exact point on the horizon where the northern moon rises. He is convinced that the Heelstone as an astronomical marker is the very first part of Stonehenge. Yet he states that there is more to the stone than just being an "The stone marks the sun and the moon, it proclaimed that the land around it was inhabited and possessed, it stood sharply on the skyline as a signpost to the henge, and it embodied the ancestral ghosts." (Burl, 1987, 79).
The moon was also connected with death. In "The Stonehenge People" Aubrey Burl writes that these people feared the dead and often dismembered the bodies to render them harmless. There are many examples that limbs, especially arms, were removed from the rest of the body. Another way to protect oneself from the dead`s power was to wait until the body had become a skeleton before burial took place. Aubrey Burl thinks that this was the purpose of a mortuary house, which he presumes was probably placed inside the banks of Stonehenge I. The dead were kept in the house before being placed in one of the surrounding barrows (Burl, 1987, 63). That the mortuary houses were often burnt down could, according to Aubrey Burl, still be understood as a further safety precaution.
During the period when Stonehenge I was built, society became more organized and the concept of the dead changed with it. Later in the period, the dead were buried immediately after death, and they were then no longer regarded as dangerous. With the higher degree of organization, the stock became of still greater importance and created a basis for an ancestoral cult. The mortuary house was no longer needed, and it was probably replaced by an arrangement of wooden posts in the middle of the enclosure. According to Aubrey Burl, the purpose of this was presumably to keep in contact with the past by letting the posts represent the former building.
R.J.C. Atkinson is also of the opinion that Stonehenge I was probably a sacred place dedicated to some death or ancestoral cult. About the Aubrey Holes, Atkinson writes that their main purpose may have been ritual rather than sepulchal, as the cremated remains are very sporadic. He thinks that the Aubrey Holes might have been symbolic doors to the netherworld, and that the holes could represent an attempt to keep in contact with the dead ancestors (Atkinson,(1956) 1979, 171).
Gerald Hawkins, who is one of the main representatives of astroarcheology, writes in "Stonehenge Decoded" that a priesthood could have used the Aubrey Holes as a kind of neolithic computer to predict eclipses of the moon. This would have rendered them an immense power.
An American, Alexander Weaver Ebin, has called Stonehenge "the first accurate sex machine" because of the 56 Aubrey Holes, which he thinks represent double menstruation cycle, one for each ovary (Chippendale,(1983) 1989, 242).
R.J.C. Atkinson states that the purpose of the ditch and the bank was not only to exclude the profane world outside the henge but also to enclose the sacred place (Atkinson,(1956) 1979, 170). Aubrey Burl adds that the items found in the circular earthwork contributed to increasing the protective effect. The items concerned are chalk balls, which he suggests could represent testicles and, antlers representing rebirth. (Burl, 1987, 73).
A matter, which I think is of great importance and has been under estimated is the fact that Stonehenge I was built on chalk ground. This means that the circle stood white and distinct in the landscape. Whiteness symbolizes, among other things, innocence and purity, and thus a white circle is likely to have had an immense protective power against the profane evil and darkness outside the circle. Another thing is that whiteness is also often connected with the whiteness of the moon. Furthermore the circle reproduces the shape of the full moon, that is the moon when it is most powerful. Applying the primary process to this matter results in the following: by creating a white circular earthwork one creates a similarity with the moon in shape and colour, which provides a possibility of symbolism. Furthermore by a total abandonment to the primary process, the symbol becomes the symbolized. As the moon is regarded as a deity this means that the white circular enclosure becomes divine, and so a worthy and powerful setting for any rites. I am convinced that one of the reasons why Salisbury Plain has the status of a sacred landscape is because of its chalk ground.

Stonehenge II
Stonehenge II was built about 2loo BC with Stonehenge I as the basis. The entrance of the monument was changed so that it was now oriented to the northeast. The 5l0m long Avenue with parallel ditches and banks was built straight out from the entrance also following the northeast line of the midsummer sunset. The two stones that marked the entrance of Stonehenge I were now placed on this new main axis on the Avenue just outside the enclosure. Moreover a ditch was built around the Heel Stone.
In the middle of the enclosure, two bluestone circles, concentric with the earth work and the Aubrey Holes, were commenced but never finished. The stones were placed like spokes in a wheel, and an entrance to the circles was marked by two stones placed inside the stone circle parallel with the mentioned main axis. Just opposite this entrance was a huge stone hole, which - according to Atkinson - was probably meant for the Altar Stone, the largest of the bluestones (Atkinson, (1980) 1991, 8).
The four Station Stones were arranged in the corners of a rectangle, whose short sides followed the main axis to the northeast, while its long sides were orientated to the point on the horizon, where the moon sets at its most northerly position and rises at its most southerly position.
Stonehenge II was built by the Beakers who, in all probability, had immigrated from the continent. They are named after an important feature of their culture, namely an elegantly accomplished clay vessel, the beaker.
The bluestones of Stonehenge II are in fact different kinds of stones, which all derive from the Precelly Mountain in Wales 335 km from Salisbury Plain. There are differing opinions as to how they arrived from Wales. Julian Richards cites Dr William Thorpes for the theory that the stones were transported the long way with the glaciers (Richards, 1991, 55).
Aubrey Burl is of the same opinion, as he claims that such skilful masons as the Beakers would have chosen stones of a better quality and left out the ones of the poor quality. Moreover they would probably have dressed the stones before the long transport, which seems not to have been the case, as chips of bluestones have been found all over the area (Burl, 1987, 135).
On the other hand it is remarkable that there is no natural occurrance of bluestone nearer than Precelly, so Atkinson as well as Julian Richards maintain that the stones - perhaps used earlier in another context - were transported by human beings and not by the ice (Atkinson, (1987) 1990, 15).
If the latter theory is correct, it required an immense effort by the population of that time. On one hand this would reflect the existence of a society with a high degree of organization, and on the other hand it reflects that exactly these stones were important. Already in l956 Atkinson wrote that Precelly could very well have been a holy mountain because of its height and its situation by the sea. He wrote that it must have been an awe inspiring sight especially from the sea, its top reaching right into the sky (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 175-176). Beside it holy monuments can be found as well, which also signifies the importance of the place (Burl, 1983, 36-37). Moreover some of the Beakers` axes were made of the same sort of stone from Precelly. R.J.C.Atkinson pointed out that axes were not only weapons but also signs of prestige carrying magical power, a power that could be transmitted to the stone they were made of. This would render the stones an even greater holiness (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 176).
All this is quite according to the primary process logic. If you accept the hypothesis that Precelly is a holy mountain, the case is the following: By using a part of something holy - the holy mountain - in the building of Stonehenge II, you add holiness to the monument as a whole, as the symbol is the symbolized, as far as there is an abandonment to a religious or primary process function. Exactly the same kind of logic lies behind R.J.C.Atkinson`s explanation concerning the axes giving sanctity to the stones of Precelly, and thus from this point of view very plausible, only I would rather turn this hypothesis upside down, regarding it as more likely that the mountain was the original sanctum. Another thing is that the stones in themselves can be regarded as holy. Within the Jungian tradition, which developed Freud`s theories on the primary process, the stone is described as a symbol of the Self - the divine - among other things because of their imperishableness (Jung, (1964) 1978, 221).
Besides the high organization of society and the holiness of the bluestones as explanations of the great effort of carrying the bluestones the 335km from Precelly to Salisbury Plain, I am convinced that the latter place in itself is also of the utmost importance in this respect. As I have already mentioned, I am of the opinion that one important reason why this place originally gained its importance and reputation as a sacred landscape was because of its chalk underground. And once the importance and reputation were obtained, it would be sensible to choose the same place for later monuments, and would contribute to make the immense undertaking seem worthwhile.
It has been pointed out that the building of Stonehenge II could mark a change in religion from a death cult to a cult where the sun played an important part. R.J.C.Atkinson writes that earlier attention was directed to the earth but now the Beakers turned their attention to the sky. The uniformity in the orientation of the Beaker henges must be based on astronomic observations. Furthermore he discusses the presence of a fertility cult because of the shapes of the undressed bluestones. They are found in two different shapes, tall pillars, interpreted as male, and smaller broad stones, interpreted as female (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 173-175).
The before mentioned change of axis, also marked with extra stones in the inner circle, and the finding of contemporary circular gold discs with central crosses, interpreted as sun symbols, make it likely that the sun is the heavenly body to which the attention was directed. (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 174).
Another thing which I think also suggests the importance of the sun is the way the stones are placed in incomplete circles, namely like spokes in a wheel or, to express it in a perhaps more appropriate way, like the rays of the sun. With reference to Gimbutas, I think it is plausible that from Stonehenge I to Stonehenge II and III, there was a change in religion from a death and later ancestoral cult connected to a moon goddess to a sun and fertility cult connected to an earth goddess. This follows the sociological evolution from a hunting society to a farming society, whose survival was dependent on the growing of crops or, in other words, the fertilization of the earth. However, at this time the old religion had probably still not been quite abandoned, paying attention to the lunar orientation of the Station Stones. But there can hardly be any doubt that in Stonehenge II the sun was the heavenly body to which the most intensive attention was attached.
Applying the primary process logic on the architecture of Stonehenge II causes similar considerations as in the case concerning Stonehenge I, only now it is the sun that is imitated. The stones were arranged in a double circle, a form similar to the sun, and furthermore they are arranged like rays going out from the centre. As mentioned above, stones are often regarded as holy because of their changelessness. So my interpretation is as follows: As tribes in Africa imitated the rain to make it come to the earth, the Beakers imitated the sun, not only to create a divine space, but also to make the sun fertilize the earth. It is well known that if people cannot control their surroundings by means of technology or the like, magic is an obvious possibility, so much more as the feeling of powerlessness can be overcome by using magic.

Stonehenge III
The building of Stonehenge III took place over three periods. It was started in about 2ooo BC, where the great sarsen stone circle, consisting of 3o uprights with curved lintels above, and the horseshoe were erected, still following the north east axis of Stonehenge II (Richards, 1991, 127). The horseshoe consists of five trilithons, arranged so that the greatest trilithon was at the bottom of the horseshoe.
Trilithon is a Greek word for two uprights with a lintel above.
The monument shows a lot of architectural refinements, such as the curving of the lintels, so that they create a perfect circle, and the upward tapering of the upright sarsens, as well as the downward tapering of the trilithon lintels, a practice also used in the building of temples in ancient Greece. The space between the centre of each upright is exactly the same but for the space creating the entrance. All this places Stonehenge III far above other similar contemporary monuments.
The large sarsen stones are smoothly dressed on the inside except for the great trilithon at the bottom of the horseshoe, which was dressed on both sides.
The lintels are fixed upon the uprights by means of a tenon and mortise technique, and in the circle the lintels are jointed to each other with tongues and groves.
At the entrance to the earth work large undressed sarsens were placed one of which, the Slaughter Stone, is still there, now lying on the ground.
Later an elliptical setting of 22 dressed bluestones was placed inside the sarsen horseshoe, and at least two of these must have been trilithons, as parts of these can be seen in the present bluestone horseshoe. Inside the ellipse were holes for stones seemingly indicating the midsummer sunrise. Outside the sarsen circle 59 holes were also dug, the Y and Z holes, in two concentric circles. There are no signs to indicate that these holes have ever contained stones, except for small bits of bluestone at the bottom of the holes, which were never filled up.
R.J.C. Atkinson writes that in all probability these holes were meant for the remaining 6o bluestones but that this enterprise was never finished. This hypothesis has not been questioned, and R.J.C. Atkinson goes to suggest that the bluestone fragments could be understood as propitiatory token offerings to protect against the evil that could be the consequence "from depriving the gaping holes of their rightful and expected contents" (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 84).
The final setting of Stonehenge III took place about l55o BC, and was actually a resetting of the bluestones into a circle inside the sarsen circle, and a horseshoe of tall bluestone pillars inside the sarsen horseshoe. Finally the Altar Stone, the largest of all the bluestones, was placed on the main axis between the centre and the bottom of the horseshoe. The bluestone circle consisted of tall pillars as well as smaller and broader stones, one of each kind frames the entrance to the circle.
On the inner side of trilithon two are carvings of axe heads and a dagger, and on trilithon four of a rectangular figure, which according to R.J.C. Atkinson, could symbolize a female deity (Atkinson (1980) 1991, 18).
Axe head carvings are also found on the outer side of the sarsen circle. Furthermore an axe was found in the hole of the now fallen Altar Stone.
When the building of Stonehenge III was started, the Beaker culture had declined and had been replaced by another even more organized and hierarchical culture. The finding of various spectacular gold items in the Bush Barrow, a contemporary barrow a mile south of Stonehenge, gives clear witness that this is the burial place of a mighty ruler.
Stonehenge is conspicuous, great and impressive and of course there have been a vast number of interpretations. In the middle of the sixties Gerald Hawkins brought forward his suggestion that Stonehenge had functioned as an observatory, making it possible for the astronomer priesthood to make a sort of calendar or to divide the year into parts so the times for sowing and harvest and, moreover, religious festivals could be fixed. And to repeat what has already been mentioned under Stonehenge I and the Aubrey Holes, he is of the opinion that these served as a kind of neolithic computer making it possible to predict eclipses. His theories have been much discussed and especially the thought of the neolithic computer has been rejected. But that astronomy was important, both because of the heavenly bodies` divine character and because a sort of calendar would be necessary in a farming society, is generally accepted.
It is my opinion that Stonehenge III also provides a similarity with the sun as was the case with Stonehenge II. Also here a divine space would be created by means of magic as explained above. However, a lot of changes in the architecture have taken place with the building of Stonehenge III, among other things the addition of the double horseshoe placed with the opening to the northeast and the midsummer sunrise. Aubrey Burl discusses L.E. Stover`s and B. Kraig`s suggestion that the horseshoe could be connected with a bull cult. At the same time he rejects this hypothesis because of the fact that the shape of the horseshoe does not resemble the horns of the bull as these curve outwards at the ends. Nor does he consider the resemblance between the horseshoe and the cresent of the moon as sufficiently close to be convinced of a symbolic representation of the moon (Burl, 1987, 211). He points out that the horseshoe is more like a lobster claw, a sort of trap, able to catch the sun (Burl, 1987, 212). The horseshoes are fairly common settings, and he mentions that most of them are open towards important celestial positions. He understands Stonehenge III as a developed funeral forecourt with the architectural origin in the forecourts of the passage graves and he concludes:
"Stonehenge, with its carvings and its north-east orientation, with its highest sarsens at the south-west, can be included amongst this group of U-shaped settings, open to the sun, associated with an axe-cult, acting like a doorway to the Other-World. This would explain the twelfth and last question about the monument. The five trilithons rose in height towards the south-west because this was the direction of the midwinter sunset and the dark, cold end of the year."
And he continues:
"It may be supposed, then, that Stonehenge was erected after enormous labour to commemorate annually at midwinter the death of some great divinity. Equally, the sarsens may have been put up to be the everlasting house of such a deity whose role it was to safeguard the dead." (Burl, 1987, 213-214).
The deity mentioned in the quotation must be the mother goddess, whom Aubrey Burl believes is represented by the Altar Stone, first because similar sculptures of the goddess are found in Brittany, but also because an axe, the mother goddess` attribute, has been found in the pit where the Altar Stone was formerly placed. He also refers to the carvings of the axe heads, the dagger and the rectangular "figurine". In agreement with R.C.J. Atkinson he interprets the latter as a representation of the mother goddess (Burl, 1987, 207). This mother goddess is, as far as I can see, identical with the earth goddess mentioned above. She has been given two attributions. She is the giver of life as everything grows from her, and the taker of life as well, as she takes back everything she has given life to (Chetwynd, 1986, 133).
Aubrey Burl points out that there is an intimate connection between the axe, the sun, the moon and death. (Burl, 1987, 192). Later when he mentions the two bluestones at the entrance, the male, tall pillar to the right and the female, broad one to the left, he says that sexual symbolism is quite plausible considering that Stonehenge was "deeply concerned with death and fertility" (Burl, 1987, 202). However, I think that Aubrey Burl´s conclusion, which is quoted above, does not attach enough importance to the sun and the fertility aspects.
Mircia Eliade writes about megalitic buildings in general that they are connected with a death and ancestoral cult. The aim of the rituals was to keep in contact with the deads. The stones themselves are understood as dwellings for dead spirits, a sort of new immortal body (Eliade, (1976) 1983, 110). He only writes about Stonehenge that it is possibly a solar temple, but that the more definite use of the monument is still uncertain (Eliade, (1976) 1983, 114).
Both Aubrey Burl and R.J.C. Atkinson discuss the possibility of understanding the sarsen circle as an everlasting version or representation of a former wooden building partly because of the mortise a technique used in carpentry. In this way you could keep in contact with the past and use this as a sort of legitimation of a new order (Atkinson, (1956) 1979, 178) & (Burl, 1987, 136).
As for the new order it is my point of view that, in an agricultural society, much more attention will be given to the sun as a fertilizing principle, as already mentioned. Benjamin C. Ray maintains that the still greater centralization of the power created a basis for a prestige project, and also that Stonehenge III is the result of such an immense performance that it must have had the greatest collective importance. He is of the opinion that Stonehenge was the ritual home of some ancestoral, rebirth and fertility cult. He is convinced that it was not just a fertility cult, because this would be more likely to be related to the equinoxes and not - as indicated by the main axis of Stonehenge - to the midsummer solstice. He writes that the ancestoral cult, which is rendered probable by the great amount of surrounding barrows, should legitimate the power of the leader. The main contents of the rites would then be the rebirth and following renewal and strengthening of the leader on behalf of the whole society, and as such an act of social solidarity (Ray, 1987, 274-276).
It is, of course, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, very difficult to say anything specific about the concrete rites, but the principle meaning sounds very plausible to me, and the fertility and rebirth aspect also plays a prominent part in my interpretation.

The rock carvings
On the basis of a comparison between the Scandinavian rock-carvings and the British "Galicien" ones as found in Argyll, Scotland, Eoin MacWhite shows the mutual influence between the two early Bronze-age cultures. P. V. Glob discusses this theory and ends up agreeing with MacWhite`s conclusion (Glob, 1969, 133). This cultural interconnectedness seems obvious knowing that these prehistoric peoples had common origin and that trade took place between the countries in the Bronze age.
Among Scandinavian rock-carvings two of the most common signs are the cup-mark and the cross-in-circle marks. Traditionally the latter have been interpreted as sun-symbol and the cup-mark more generally as a fertility symbol (Glob, 1969, 56 & 169).
The existence of a sun and fertility cult in Scandinavia is equally agreed on by Danish scholars (Brøndsted, 1939, 148) (Larsen, 1955, 53). This cult is not only made probable by the rock-carvings, but also by the important finding af the solar chariot from Trundholm (Glob, 1969, 165) & (Larsen, 1955, 53) & (Jensen, 1979, 90).
Already in 1882 J. J. A. Worsaae connects the cup-marks with the Indian Yoni/Lingam-symbol from the Shiva fertility cult (Glob, 1969, 305-306). The likeness is most obvious in the cases where the cup-marks are surrounded by circles which open into channels as it is the case e.g. in Argyll. Another matter which makes interpretation seem plausible is the fact that the cup marks are similar to the marks left in the wood after having made a fire with a fire-stick. The act of making fire, where the stick is turned around in the wood is known in the Shiva fertility cult as a representation of the sexual act. Moreover it is likely and in accordance with the primary process that the fire represents the sun. The cup-mark would then be the lasting evidence of this holy wedding between the sun and the earth. Thus they would ensure the fertilizing power of the sun by sympathetic magic.
A rock-carving from Slänge, Bohuslen in Sweden, depicts the same situation, showing the phallic man`s torso as a cross-in-circle mark, the above-mentioned sum-symbol (Glob, 1970, 142). The couple as well as other male figures with cross-in-wheel torsos wear what has been interpreted as ritual bird masks (Broby-Johansen, 1967, 67). The bird masks would if not enable the wearers to fly like birds then at any rate mark that they are close to the divine sun and thus be a concrete sign of the persons´ holiness. In Bohuslen there are several examples of men holding enormous axes, all scenes which clearly show the close connection between a sun, axe, and fertility cult in Scandinavia.
P. V. Glob mentions that on stones which have remained unmoved since the carving of the cup-marks, these are always placed on the side of the stones facing the sun (Glob, 1942, 68). The conclusion must be that the conception of a holy wedding between the sun and the earth has been a part of the fertility and sun cult in early Bronze age Scandinavia.

However, the cup-mark is ambiguous and can represent both the female and male gender as pointed out by P. V. Glob (Glob, 1969, 306). At one and the same time it has the shape of the male sun and the shape of the female sex, a matter which would make it so much more effectual as a fertility symbol. A similar ambiguity is an important aspect of the symbolism of Stonehenge.
In the whole structure of Stonehenge III there is an immanent presence of the two counterparts, male and female. The two different kinds of bluestones have already been mentioned as well as the interpretation of the rectangular carving as female or more specifically the mother- or earth goddess, and the carvings of axe heads as her attributes. The axe and also the dagger have a clearly male character, and following the primary process logic these weapons could be phallic representations because of the common ability to penetrate. There is also an intellectual level in this, as the ability to "cut through" has traditionally been regarded as a male quality. That the axe is the goddess´ attribute can thus be explained with the fact that it represents her contrast, so once more we have the male/female composition. The sun, too, is able to create light and clarity, which could be at least one of the reasons why it is often understood as male.
The very first English historian to mention Stonehenge was Henry of Huntingdon. In ll3o he wrote:
"Stanenges, where stones of wonderful size have been erected after the manner of doorways, so that doorway appears to have been raised upon doorway." (Chipendale, (1983) 1989, 20).
According to the primary process, the doorway can also be interpreted as a female sex symbol with the entrance as the common aspect.
As to the shape of the horseshoe setting of Stonehenge III, I think it would be most obvious to interpret it as female, too. Freud wrote that the horseshoe is a very common female sexual symbol, once more according to the primary process, as there is a resemblance between the shape of the female womb and the horseshoe. (Freud, (1917) 1982, 135). The horseshoe also represents the contour of a jar, another very common female sexual symbol. Another support for this interpretation is the fact that all the bluestones in the inner horseshoe are tall pillars, so if we stick to the interpretation of these as phallic, this again provides a male/female composition.
If the interpretation of the horseshoe as female is correct and if the sun is accepted as the male counterpart, the conclusion is as follows: every year at midsummer when the sun is most powerful it will rise and shed its light and fertilizing power into the horseshoe. In other words, a sort of cosmic coitus or holy wedding between the sun and the earth will take place every year and secure the survival of a society which was all dependent on the harvest. The sun, as the male principle, impregnates Mother Earth´s womb. A situation quite similar to the one depicted on the rock-carving from Slänge, Sweden.
The rising in height of the trilithons has been referred to as support of the theory that the southwest orientation and the midwinter played the most important role in the rites of an ancestoral cult. But it could also mean - calling the ambiguity of the primary process to mind - that the horseshoe then would be more able to receive the sun. This would prevent the sun from slipping away and its fertilizing power would be kept inside the setting, as it would be stopped at the bottom of the horseshoe, where the Altar Stone is also placed. This would be quite in keeping with Aubrey Burl`s interpretation of it as a representation of the goddess.
When it comes to the concrete rites, it is most plausible that the sun was represented by the mighty ruler just as was the case with, for instance the Inca ruler and later the Japanese emperor. Just as the sun gave its fertilizing power to the earth, something similar could have been the case for the mighty leader. By passing the female doorways to the sanctum during a midsummer festival he could appear to his subjects as a fertilizing power just like the sun, or maybe he has actually performed the holy wedding, he representing the sun and the woman the earth. Of course this is only speculation, but it would be a social event that would secure not only the crops but also the ruler´s status.

During the building of Stonehenge there was obviously a change both sociologically and in religion. From about 2800 BC to 1500 BC society changed into a still higher organized and hierarchical agricultural society.
From a depth psychological point of view, it seems most likely that this change was followed by a change in religion as, for example, Gimbutas suggested, from a death, ancestoral and moon cult, with the self-reliant moon goddess as the prominent deity to a sun and fertility cult, where the earth goddess and the sun were the deities in focus.
In the case of Stonehenge I the understanding of the place as a sanctuary devoted to a moon, death and ancestoral cult is uncontradicted. My interpretation of the white circle as a representation of the full moon can only support this view. The depth psychological concept of the primary process is the basis of my assertion that the resemblance between the full moon and the circle provided the population of that time with the possibility of creating a sacred space where rites could take place.
The building of Stonehenge II marked the beginning of a new era where the fertility aspect was the dominant one and where the sun and the earth goddess were the dominant deities, a development that was carried on in Stonehenge III. It is also evident that the old order was not abandoned, in the cycle of the year rebirth and fertility are closely connected, and it is quite possible that the midwinter sunset was celebrated as the counterpart of the midsummer sunrise. Of course the contact with the past is also important to legitimate what is going on in the present.
According to a depth psychological interpretation, the change of the main axis to a northeast orientation and the midsummer sunrise and the architecture in itself show that the purpose of Stonehenge in its present form was to create a divine space as was the case with Stonehenge I and II. But probably the main purpose was to secure the survival of society by making the sun fertilize the earth using magic creating a resemblance as explained above, and that this was made possible by the architecture as shown above. The most important yearly event has thus been the midsummer sunrise where the sun on the peak of its powers fertilized the earth in a cosmic coitus, or in other words impregnated Mother Earth´s womb; An event which also secured the leader his power as he was most probably the representative of the sun.

Berit Johnsen, Holmsø, October 1993

(1) The theory of the primary process is described for the first time in Sigmund Freud "Träumdeutung", 1900

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Sidst opdateret 01-09-2010
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