I was asked,
“I am doing some research on primitive art and I have a question for you about metaphysical psychology in the first known versions of art from the Ancient Lascaux peoples of Southern France. If you were going to step inside the mental space of the cave peoples creating these drawings what would you say they were thinking? In many cases the locations of these caves were not easily accessible. From what I have read some historians think this was a primitive form of voodoo magic, killing the beast on the walls of the case will help with success of the hunt in reality. I do not think this is the most logical psychology. I would postulate that the earliest forms of art were just narrative, visual, descriptions of the animals that sustained survival for the tribal and primitive cave people. Do you agree or do you think they were already creating mythical and metaphysical connections. I would add that if the metaphysical connections developed they were post creation of the art (probably several generations later) by individuals in the tribe looking to project additional meaning and significance on the art to introduce fear or control in the group. The stories about the art essentially changed by the storytellers to reflect their own fears, ambitions, and primal needs. Please comment and let me know your thoughts / interpretation.”
My response, I think it is more likely was hunting magic to me in many cases I believe. Wish out even looking I know that Voodoo is a mix of at least to religions something like West African (Yoruba Religion and Catholic Christianity). And it is an animism and totemism. So, yes it may be similar to the prehistory artistic efforts. Most art was made at great effort to the artists in France cave art efforts leading to the conclusion that there was more than just for artistic design it seems to likely to be religious beliefs as a possible interpolation. And, to me cave art is only understood with grasping the people who made it then look back to try and find interests in other things found that together tells how they may have believed.
I am also an artist. So, in the picture above I see this as possible regards to the different life stages of an animal like the horse a food source at this time. The Aurignacian culture is the ones I would say are at least some if not most of the cave artists so it is them that one should understand to better guess intentionally in the cave art made. The Aurignacian culture (/ɔːrɪɡˈneɪʃən/ or /ɔːrɪnˈjeɪʃən/) is an archaeological culture of the Upper Palaeolithic. It is the earliest modern human culture in Europe, and is associated with the immigration of anatomically modern humans from the Near East. It first appeared in Eastern Europe around 43,000 BP, and in Western Europe between 40,000 and 36,000 years BP. It was replaced by the Gravettian culture around 28,000 to 26,000 years ago.
The oldest undisputed example of human figurative art, the Venus of Hohle Fels, comes from this culture. Hohle Fels German for “hollow rock” is a cave that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating to the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The first excavation took place in 1870, yielding remnants of cave bears, reindeer, mammoths and horses as well as tools belonging to the Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic. Further excavations during 1958 to 1960, 1977, and 2002 yielded a number of spectacular finds, including several specimens of prehistoric sculpture such as an ivory bird and a human-lion hybrid figure similar to the Löwenmensch figurine but only 2.5 cm tall. In 2005, one of the oldest phallic representations was discovered. In 2008, a team from the University of Tübingen, led by archaeologist Nicholas Conard, discovered an artifact known as the Venus of Hohle Fels, dated to about 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. This is the earliest known Venus figurine and the earliest undisputed example of expressly human figurative art. The team also unearthed a bone flute in the cave, and found two fragments of ivory flutes in nearby caves. The flutes date back at least 35,000 years and are some of the earliest musical instruments ever found. In 2012, it was announced that an earlier discovery of bone flute fragments in Geißenklösterle Cave now date back to about 42,000 years, instead of 37,000 years, as earlier perceived. Ref Ref
he art of the Aurignacian culture represents the first complete tradition in the history of art, moving from awkward attempts to a well-developed, mature style. The earliest examples of the small, portable art objects produced during this period are from western Europe and consist of pebbles with very simple engravings of animal forms. Later, animal figures were carved in pieces of bone and ivory. At the same time, a tradition of true sculpture in the round grew up in eastern Europe, with vividly realistic, though simple, clay figurines of animals and highly stylized statuettes of pregnant women, the so-called Venus figures, presumably fertility figures. In the later part of the Aurignacian Period, a fusion of Eastern sculptural and Western linear traditions occurred in the West, resulting in small carvings of greatly increased naturalism; the engraved details show attempts at foreshortening and shading with cross-hatched lines. Ref
The picture of the statue comes from the cave Geißenklösterle in Germany. One of the ways of interpreting this Aurignacien figure. First, there is no indication that the figure represents a woman. The figure may represent a bird-man or an Orante or a figure of a man holding his cloak high. It shows more than a simple figure in a particular gesture. On the hand we can see grooves, which may represent fringes, but also feather, and the back is decorated with areal geometrical decor. More precise identification of the statuette is impossible due to its heavy damage. However, the information for an Aurignacien person is clear nonetheless and it is similar to other Aurignecian materials such as decorating, which is centered on the arms, it reflects the anatomy of the body, and geometrisation of the square and the rectangle is applied here (the decoration is composed of imaginary rectangle and square networks). It is evident that they decorated even the naked body in Aurignacian. That corresponds with a warmer climate as opposed to the later Gravettien. The headwear does not have the same significance as it has in the Gravettien, either. Ref
36,000 – 32,000 Years Ago – Chauvet Cave (France), venus and The Sorcerer (should be venus and the sorceress instead), cave art drawn in black charcoal. The black pubic triangle of the venus is at eye level and seems to be the heart of the composition. The white vulva slit appears to have been done later with a pointed tool and is clearly indicated by a vertical line incised strongly enough to cut through both the black pigment and the yellow surface film of the rock and there is a bullhead right above it and the bull leg is the venus leg. Perhaps the female representation relates directly to the corridor to the chamber, which opens just behind her. Four other female representations limited to just the pubic triangle are in the cave; they are all in the system including the Galerie des Megaceros and the Salle du Fond, indicating each time the entrance to the adjacent cavities. There are red handprints and red dots made into figures, red paint (ground red ocher) would be blown, probably by mouth, around the stencil of the artist’s hand. Ref Ref
27,000 – 23,000 Years Ago – Dolni Vestonice (Czech Republic), found a triple ritual burial that contains two males posed to either side of a female who had a pelvic deformity so could not have had children. The bodies were of three teenagers, one of the males had his hand between the female’s legs, where there is a stone too. Moreover, red ochre was placed between the female’s legs as well as on the heads of all three people. The other male lay on his stomach facing away from female but holding hand with a mask which depicts the woman. Also found was a single burial of women covered in red ochre along with two mammoth bones on top of her and there is a clay carving of her next to her. Women seems to hold some possible specialness and women of Ice Age Europe were not mere cave wives but shamanistic leaders, clever inventors, and mighty hunters. Furthermore, this site has one of the earliest known potter’s kiln as well as 2300 clay figurines; venus figurines, animals, and some weapons, evidence of trade, and a hollowed bone for flute. Specifically, there is a female figurine called the black venus of Dolni Vestonice a reddish clay figurine. Goddesses are usually inferred from depictions of females, whether sculpted or painted. However, I don’t believe all female figurines are goddesses I think it more likely they are ancestor totems or some other spirit. Moreover, I don’t believe it is right to brand all female figurines as earth mothers, fertility goddesses, but some may have been earth mothers, fertility goddesses, we just don’t. Although what we do know is while the rituals may differ by gender, or may be separate by gender in many cultures, the ability to reach the spirits is often perceived as essentially female and the female gender may have been attributed to the first supernatural entities. However, there also is also a carved ivory figure of young man which may represent the first example of portraiture dated to around 29,000 years ago. Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref
I think it seems likely the first motivation for religion involved fear of death and control of nature to get believed magical powers of for kind or sort.
Here is a similar blog post: Superstition to Religion “The Tree of Lies and its Hidden Roots”