Latest sighting of women in the past: spirts honored in early Europe were willies -- girls and young women who died without giving birth and therefore donated their fertility to the good of the agrarian community. These willies spent "their nights and days dancing in the fields and forests" the way living girls did. Also honored was the Cosmic Bride.
Here are some great visual images and tidbits from The Dancing Goddesses by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.
"There existed a very special group: young women born into the clan who have died before having any children – hence not ancestors of the living but still belonging to the community. Most important, they have not used their natural store of fertility. So, people reasoned, if we're especially nice to them, they might bestow their unused fertility on us. Because unmarried girls in the living community spent much of their time singing and dancing together, Read More