The Cavewoman and the Crone: A Preherstoric Allegory
written and illustrated by Jen Storer
Once there was a cavewoman. She was a busy cavewoman. She got a lot of shit done.
She could slit a deer’s throat and skin it in under an hour.
She stuffed wild ducks and roasted them with hazelnuts, yams and bay leaves.
Then she made really righteous bunting with the duck feathers.
She picked berries and herbs, too. Made tea from purple flowers, seedpods and grass.
Tea that granted sleep. Eased a bellyache. Soothed a headache.
Other blends could make you poop. If that was your desire.
Oh. And she also gave birth to cave babies.
Five at the last count.
She knew exactly how to do that. Which was helpful. Seeing as how the human race depended on it.
Yep, this cavewoman was busy, multi talented and she had a LOT of knowledge.
The other women were busy, too.
They did the same kind of stuff.
Then, one day, a cave crone wandered in.
She wore a hefty bearskin robe, and deer antlers entwined in her coarse grey hair.
Holy Goddess she was cool.
The crone said, ‘You gals know a lot of shit. Why don’t you grab some paint and draw some shit on the walls of your caves? You know. Pass on the knowledge to future cavewomen. To the cave blokes, too. I’ve been watching them. Those dudes are lacklustre. They could do with some new learnin’…’
The crone rested on a rock in the shadows.
The women made her sweet tea and bone broth with mushrooms.
Then they sat in a circle around the fire and, while the crone dozed, they talked about all she had said.
They spoke earnestly.
You see, the cavemen were in charge of the walls. They were the ones who painted cool shit up there on the rock.
Plus, the cavemen knew what they were doing.
They did things properly, you know?
The right way.
The cavewomen thought:
Everyone will laugh at us.
Everyone will think we’re dickheads.
We have no qualifications.
We don’t have permission.
What if the other cavewomen get jealous?
What if we lose friends?
What if we get it wrong and we are publicly humiliated?
That last thought almost made them wail.
They could barely let go of that one: What if we get it wrong?
Oooooo. It was agony to contemplate. Agony to imagine.
Then, one cavewoman, (the one who made righteous bunting from duck feathers) stood up and kicked dirt at the fire.
The flames flickered.
She stomped her foot.
‘Fuck it,’ she said. ‘I’m gonna have a go. Pass me that paint.’
The others watched in awe as the cavewoman began to paint.
A stick figure first.
Then a wonky horse.
Some kind of generic flower.
Then great swathes of FASCINATING images began to appear all over the walls.
A whole new language.
She was on a roll!
Centuries of pent up knowledge and wisdom unfurled through her paint stick.
A group of cavemen staggered in. They were buggered. They’d been trying to round up a mammoth all day but no luck.
‘What’s going on?’ they said.
They saw the walls.
They saw the woman with the paint stick in her hand.
They were taken aback.
A little gobsmacked.
A couple were pissed off.
Another chuckled. He was ‘highly amused’.
But you know what?
After a while the blokes lightened up. (The patriarchy hadn’t formalised at this stage, so you know, these blokes were a bit more easy-going than their descendants would be.)
It didn’t take long before the cavemen really dug this radical change.
They admired the new images.
The new language.
They absorbed it all.
They enjoyed learning from the cavewoman. It was ace!
The men liked this new idea of sharing, too. They could run with this!
It would make life easier. And way more interesting. (Quite frankly they were sick of the sound of their own voices. And the sight of their own dicky pictures.)
Meanwhile, the crone woke up, hauled her bearskin up over her shoulders and left the cave.
She turned her face to the wind.
Whispered a prayer for future generations.
Had she ushered in a wondrous, miraculous, monumental shift? A revolution? Had she turned time, made it pivot at the crossroads?
Or perhaps her actions would improve just one small life?
She bowed her head and kept walking.
There were other caves to visit. Other whispers to share.
And what of the cavewoman with the paint stick and the duck feather bunting?
She went on to become a celebrated artist and beloved leader.
To live a rich and varied life.
An inspiring life made all the richer, all the more rewarding, because she was brave.
Because she saw in that crone her future self.
And not only did she listen, she said fuck it.
And she picked up a paint stick.
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