“There is a stillness, and a deep quiet, in the atmosphere of ancient ruins, that can transcend the here and now to encompass all places and all times…if one can allow that quiet to enter one’s soul, it is a portal to eternity” ~Nancy Rose
On the Path of the Ancient Ones
History and Dances of Ancient Warrioresses (The Amazons) of Persia, Sumeria, Ionia, and the Near East
Founded and Directed by Farima Berenji
Founded by internationally award winning and acclaimed dance artist and scholar Farima Berenji, The Lioness project consists of the history, dance, music, costuming, sacred tours, and theatrical dance shows of these Persian, Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Near Eastern warrioresses and goddesses. As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and dance ethnologist, Farima has traveled and devoted many years of her life, excavating, researching, and uncovering the mysterious history of ancient warrioresses. Farima’s vision is to restore the light and power of the divine feminine, the goddesses and Lionesses, through dance, training, and a sense of wonder and reverence. Most importantly, she seeks to keep the memory of these Lionesses alive. Farima has studied ancient battle movements, armory, and the connections between these movements with modern dance form. Her findings, theories, and dance techniques are currently taught by educational and dance institutions across the globe including institutions and organizations in Iran and Turkey. All have been based upon her intensive archaeological excavations.
Our mission is to unearth the history, re-create costuming and music, and have sacred retreats, workshops, and tours to visit their sites and feel their energy. Most importantly we want to teach and perform the beautiful dances of the Ancient Ones to our community. We will take on the path of the Ancients, a journey of discovery, in space and time…reconnecting with ancient goddess figures, and drinking deeply from hidden wells of inspiration, now revealed in our time, and in so doing re-discover ourselves in the process. I see The Lioness as rediscovery, bringing back the light and the power of the divine feminine, the goddesses, and lionesses through training, respect, love, and a sense of wonder and reverence, and with a positive momentum that spreads empowerment of women into other areas of life and culture.
One area receiving the least amount of attention by international scholarship is the historic role of women warriors and goddesses of ancient Persia. Tracing back several millennia, the portrayal of women warriors, empresses, and goddesses in ancient Persia and the Near East has always been a story of folklore and myths. The word “warrioress” only appears in fairy tales and is often written in mythology books, yet, these Persian warrioresses were in fact real and they were powerful; so powerful that they have been written out of history and described only as myths. The same goes for the ancient goddesses, since they too have been a threat to predominant religion and male society. Even the sign of Aquarius always depicted as an old man was originally a woman figure such as Ufratu. Women who were always associated with water and water bearers were an important part of ancient religions.
In Persia, women were considered living goddesses and many had important positions in court of law, ministries, military, state departments, and other official administrative positions. Many ancient Persian cities and states were ruled by women and had their army under full control of female commanders. They were known to be great warriors, had great sword skills, and went into battle side by side with their king or husbands. The significant role of women in ancient Iran both horrified and fascinated the ancient Greek and Roman male-dominated societies.
Sadly, in the modern age, we hardly see any mention of them or any publications about them, and most of what was written in the past has been destroyed by conquerors or burned by Alexander with the Great Library of Persepolis that contained many historical documents of these leaders. Soon after, Christian and Arab invasions destroyed many Near Eastern ancient sacred sites dedicated to these leaders, as well as destroying or converting many temples that represented ancient goddesses.
Over centuries of war, politics, and religious uprising, the resting tombs, temples, and monuments of all these “Lionesses” have either been destroyed and/or had their names changed by adding or removing letters to portray that of a male. Some evidence also shows that pictures or depiction of these female leaders have been scraped off or painted over to portray a male. Even if anyone tried to resurrect their name or history, they would have been silenced or prosecuted for being a pagan worshiper. Power in the hands of a woman was then, and still is, considered a threat to society.
How can you be involved?
My research is dedicated to understanding and reclaiming this lost history for Iranian women. The Awakening and The Lioness projects seek to explore and disseminate this lost culture. I want to keep the Ancient Ones awake… It is my calling… It is our voice! And until the lionesses have their own voice, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
If you share the same passion as I do, you too can be involved in this project! We are looking for places, ideas, workshops, funding, sponsorships, artists, historians, and dancers. We will draw upon the ancient warrioresses and goddesses to be inspired and create new dances. If you would like to share information, facts, articles, etc. please do! If you want to join our sacred dance tours, workshops, retreats, shows, or help support our mission let us know!