In honor of Mother’s Day, PLK would like to share with you about the wonderful and powerful ancient female leaders of our time!
We will be highlighting 3 from different parts of the world.
“The Lady of Cao” (Peru)
You may be asking “why are we bringing up the past and not talking about present day leaders?” Because we must be reminded of history repeating itself and honoring our ancestors who have come before us fighting the same current battles we face today. These women have pushed to make ripple effects into the society that we see today and they do not get enough recognition or even awareness to the public. Another reason is because as a women and POC founded organization, it would have been amazing to see and learn of these beautiful women that looked like us and harnessed their powers for the betterment of society. I don’t know about you, but it was nonexistent to learn about brown or black women making positive change in the world. So let’s re learn who we are and harness that powerful energy to bring the divine feminine back! Queens, you are so enough the way you are. Hoping this makes you tap into your divinity, that sacredness instilled in you.
*** Please do your own research. All text is referenced at the end of the page. ***
The first ancient female leader can be found in Africa.
Also known as “Foremost of Noble Leaders” or archaically Hatasu*
(c. 1507 - 1458 BC) 5th Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt*
She is seen to be one of the most prolific builders in Ancient Egypt, where she oversaw large construction projects such as- the Kamak Temple Complex, the Red Chapel, the Speos Artemidos, and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari.*
She was a rarity where the next female ruler, Cleopatra, would have succeeded her 14 centuries later!
An interesting fact is she is seen to appear male and take on traditional male roles thus depicted as a male pharaoh, but in fact she was a woman taking reign to continue her family’s legacy. In pictures she is drawn as a man with muscles and a beard.
During her reign, it was considered a period with great prosperity and peace.
Another construction built in her time period is when she erected a second pair of obelisks at Karnak. On one the inscription reads: “Now my heart turns this way and that, as I think what the people will say—those who shall see my monuments in years to come, and who shall speak of what I have done.”
Queens, now this is how you leave behind a legacy for humanity!
In addition to her leading large construction projects, she led an expedition to the land called Punt, current-day Eritrea. You can find the story of this expedition as reliefs all over her temple marking her achievements. You can see Egyptians “loading their boats in Punt with an array of highly prized luxury goods—ebony, ivory, gold, exotic animals and incense trees.”** From this expedition she brought great wealth and artistry to her land.
“Her statues were destroyed, her monuments were defaced, and many of her achievements were ascribed to other pharaohs. Modern Egyptologists have variously attributed her erasure to sibling rivalry, political expediency or her gender.”*
Wow! Her coming into power was not as if she were a man, but she persevered and continued to uplift her land and people with the larger scale construction, expedition, and so much more. Her ending was seen to be brutal, but her wonderful legacy and accomplishments are still here today for us to honor and remember.
“The Lady of Cao”
This ancient female leader can be found in Peru.
Roughly assumed to reign between 4th and 5th centuries
Her body was found in an archaeological site, Huaca El Brujo, a grand pyramid of the ancient Moche pre-hispanic culture. She was a surprise to find for many archaeologists due to this time believed to be a patriarchal system in prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures. She was considered a woman with semi-divine powers in the Cao Viejo temple, approximately 36 miles from Trujillo (Peru’s northern coast).
Her body was covered in “elaborate tattoos of snakes, spiders and supernatural motifs, and buried wearing a golden crown among gold and copper items and weapons, including two war clubs and 23 spear throwers.”* Her forearms and arms were covered with figures of serpents, a sign of her religious power as a healer and possibly also as an oracle, and of spiders to highlight her talent as a weaver.*
Her discovery has rewritten history!
Since her discovery many more Moche female mummies have been uncovered, which suggest that “women in the civilisation enjoyed high political and religious standing.”*
Within her burial you can find items demonstrating “her wealth and jewelry along with five other individuals, including two priests, two bodyguards and a teenage girl, in a room 275 square meters (almost 3,000 square feet) in size decorated with murals presenting the Moche cosmology and in which appear different divinities in the form of various animals.”*
“...women really did have a fundamental role in the development of the societies of Ancient Peru,” Franco said.
All-in-all there is probably so much buried in our lands showcasing such a powerful history of women! We hope you are inspired by “The Lady of Cao,” and how she applied her power into her community, but also tapped into her inner standing.
“Our Sacred Mother”
“Our Lady of Guadalupe”/“Virgin of Guadalupe”
On top of the hill of Tepeyac (North of Mexico), the Aztec earth deity Tonantzin has been said to have a temple there before it was destroyed by conquistadors. The site where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego is the same location that Tonantzin temple was. It is often assumed the Virgin of Guadalupe is a modern day version on Tonantzin.
Her name means “Our Sacred Mother” in Nahuatl language. She often represents fertility and the Earth. There was not a lot of information about her presence, so her representation can be skewed and have many interpretations.
An interesting study about Aztec deities is that they can portray both genders and display different characteristics of the same deity.
There is no distinct connection to the Christian Virgin of Guadalupe, but her appearance represents the Aztec mother deity. The storylines are similar in location and this pilgrimage site is the most visited in the world, hosting millions of visitors each year.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has become a religious devotion and national symbol.
The story all begins when "Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, a member of the Chichimeca people whose name roughly translates to “he who speaks like an eagle” in Nahuatl, a pre-Hispanic language still spoken in modern-day Mexico. He lived in a region that was known as Anahuac, roughly meaning “near the water” in Nahuatl, outside of what today is Mexico City.”*
He states The Virgin of Guadalupe spoke to him in his Nahuatl language. He describes her standing "in front of the sun, a crescent moon and angel at her feet, and wore a cloak full of stars, representing the beginning of a new civilization. A black ribbon around her waist represents pregnancy, which Pope John Paul II related to the birth of Jesus Christ in the New World."*
“She is a morenita,” Curcio-Nagy said, referring to the dark-skinned image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. “Her clothes that she’s wearing and even the belt and the way it is tied is indicative of a noble Indigenous woman of the time period.” *
She represents an intersection of Mexico’s Indigenous past and colonized present.
"Please consider that the coming together was not conflictual or that it didn’t involve the loss of lives and genocide.”*
It is nice to be reminded of divine females that are idolized for their natural born characteristics. Although there may be no clear distinction between Tonatzin and Guadalupe, we are presuming her image was “whitened” and a part of the disassociation that black and brown people were original to Earth and powerful than what is led on mainstream media.