Matriarchal Societies - Return To Balance
In 2001 many connect with the phrases as "Sacred Feminine", "Divine Feminine", "Return of the Feminine", "Matriarchal Societies" as metaphors of the return to higher consciousness. We seek balance and with it comes power. Women want, and envision themselves as priestesses, as the goddess energy within them spirals them into higher light and they remember why they are here ... The return of the feminine, is not about women ruling society as that would created imbalance. It is about the return to nature, balanced restored, ying/yang united - both hemispheres of the brain working in balance, consciousness.
Approximately 13,000 years ago, as we mark the movement of the cycles of time, the zodiac, based on the Precession of the Equinoxes, we were in the Age of Leo Lion, Crown, King, Sphinx, Egypt (masculine). These shifting cycles, opposite polarities, take us to the Age of Aquarius, our current timeline (feminine). This refers to the return to balance, higher frequencies of consciousness and light. (Healing, balancing, consciousness)
The Aquarian Age is meant to reconcile ancient dichotomies, to integrate male and female energies, and to coordinate heart and mind and right and left hemispheres of the brain. Wherever polarities exist, we have an opportunity to raise consciousness and find a higher perspective from which to view life-a more balanced position, if you will.
In the last era of equality, allegedly male and female powers were of equal importance. Just as in our time line we see masculine force misused, evidence is that at a certain time in the past, woman over-reached her power. We recall the swing of the pendulum, as we create an age of enlightenment in the Aquarian era. We work to recreate appreciation for the feminine that is to express through both the male and the female body form and personality. To be positively feminine, a woman cannot be anti-male, nor can a true man be anti-woman. The time is approaching when these opposites will admire and honor, embrace and enjoy one another, and value their differences. Then will follow an age of peace and harmony and the wise use of creative powers.
Throughout history humankind has revered the Divine Mother principle that personifies the universal love and nurturing spirit that immortalizes the natural bond between mother and child. Mary, Mother of Jesus, historically has represented this divine principle for Christian and non-Christian alike. Mary represents the ideal woman, the perfection of the female principle, and the incarnation of the eternal feminine aspect, a part which we all have within our being. Contemplation in the heart, a spiritual technology, increases our understanding of the benefits that accrue as we regain respect for the feminine principle.
The Matriarchs, known as the 'mothers' in Hebrew, are four important women mentioned in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. They are Sarah, wife of Abraham; Rebecca, wife of Isaac; and Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. They are considered to be the ancestral "mothers" of the ancient Children of Israel as well as of the Jewish people. Thus classical Judaism considers itself to have three male Patriarchs and four mothers.
We find a reservoir of healing, comfort, tenderness, sensitivity, and protection. As we strengthen our appreciation of feminine dignity and purity, we begin to reestablish worthy, spiritual role models to empower the woman of the new age. We turn to feminine strengths and invoke a restoration of balance, wholeness, sensitivity, and the shaping of values.
The Babaji that Paramahansa Yogananda talks of in his Autobiography of a Yogi spoke regularly of the Divine Feminine influence as Divine Mother. While embodied in Haidakhan, India, Babaji emphasized the need for us to turn our hearts to the Divine Mother in the form of Shakti. Receive Shakti from Divine Mother and this grace will protect those attuned to her.
The principle of the Divine Feminine has endured in traditions worldwide. In Buddhism the "White Tara" symbolizes the highest form of spiritual transformation through womanhood. Tara is revered as "she who in the mind of all Yogis leads out of the darkness of bondage," the primordial force of self-mastery and redemption. On the lower plane she is Shakti, while on the higher she is Tara "who leads happily across." Especially venerated in Tibet, she is considered the Mother of Buddhism, leading the soul across the river of samsara to the far shore, which is nirvana.
* * *
The Events Surrounding the Decline of the Matriarchal Society in Egypt
To understand a society, we must look at the myths and the religions produced by that society. By examining the changes wrought upon a society's myths throughout its history, we can come to a greater understanding of what life must have been like on a daily basis in that society.
Thus, when we examine the Neolithic Period of Egyptian religion and mythology, and trace the changes that occur in that mythology as the years pass, we can see a pattern emerge portraying a slow shift in the balance of power from women to men.
The matriarchal period of Egypt appears to have extended from prehistoric time up until the first appearance of Osiris c. 3000 BC. This gradual introduction of a male deity into a society parallels the slow colonization of Egypt by foreigners from the north. However, the paradigm shift from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society does not completely overtake Egypt until the very beginning of the New Kingdom, c. 1570 BC.
Throughout all areas of the near and middle east during the Neolithic period there appeared to have been a widespread Goddess cult, based on the recovery of the so-called Venus figurines from widely scattered archeological sites. The similarity of style in these figurines suggests that a similarity of worship and rituals could also have existed. This Goddess cult could very well have been the origin of all matriarchal societies, especially those of an agricultural bias, such as Egypt and its neighbors to the northeast in the Mesopotamia.
The clans of Egypt were matri-lineal, in that the mother was seen as the primary parent of her family, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge regarding the processes of conception. If this were so, the act of gestation and of giving birth must have seemed a magical act. Thus it was that family lineage was traced through the female gender, going from mother to daughter instead of from father to son. After countless generations of this type of culture, it is easy to understand how the oldest ancestors of any given clan could have first been revered, then deified, and finally mythologized into becoming a proto-goddess.
If this were the case, it would help explain the similarities and the differences in Goddess worship throughout prehistoric Egypt. Prior to c. 3000 BC, Egypt was divided into Upper Egypt, where the Goddess was known as Nekhebt, and Lower Egypt, where the Goddess was known as Ua Zit. Nekhebt was personified in the form of a vulture, while Ua Zit was personified as a cobra. In fact, the vigil of a cobra eventually came to symbolize the word Goddess in hieroglyphic writings.
Then, c. 3000 BC, there is evidence of an invasion of Egypt by people from Mesopotamia. These people brought with them the concept of kingship, as well as the technology of brick building and writing, as well as the introduction of Mesopotamian motifs into Egyptian artwork. They also brought the concepts of a male deity.
Up until this invasion, Ua Zit and Nekhebt were the supreme deities in Egypt, but after the establishment of a kingship, and the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under one king, Ua Zit and Nekhebt were demoted. Interestingly enough, as this first introduction of a male pantheon was underway, there was the formation of a religion based around the Lady of the Serpents on the isle of Crete. This seems to indicate that refugees had fled the formation of the First Dynasty of Egypt, bringing with them the worship of their Goddess.
Ua Zit is also known as Hathor, who was the primal serpent believed to exist at the beginning of time, and who made the heaven, the earth, and all life. Hathor also threatened to destroy all of creation and return to Her primal state as a serpent behind all things. This legend of creation seems to be another form of the legend of Tiamet, from nearby Mesopotamia, which also indicates the cultural influences of this time in Egypt.
It is during this period of religious and social upheaval that a great deal of changes in the pantheon of the Egyptians takes place. Pictures from this time show the sun God Hor-Wer riding in his boat of the heavens. This deity is also known as Shu, or Lord Air. Through examination of the hieroglyphs, we see that the sign for air is a sail, and the sign for the word God is a series of banners or pendants, such as those seen at the prow of boats. Therefore, this first male deity can be seen to be arriving in Egypt as a part of an invasion force, rather than an indigenous deity arising from amidst the population. Even as the glyph for Goddess is rooted in the concept of the serpent, as the cobra, so too the glyph for God rooted in the concept of war banners.
The followers of Hor-Wer, or Horus, as He eventually came to be known, formed an aristocracy of through conquering and unifying Egypt. This aristocracy, known as the Shemsu-Hor, came to influence all the political aspects of Egypt. Records from this time indicate that men with red hair were sacrificed at the grave of Osiris. The red hair seems to indicate that these men were foreigners, and the symbolism behind their sacrifice ties into the legend of Osiris, Horus, and Isis.
Isis is also a composite Goddess. It is important to note that the name Isis is actually Greek, and that Her Egyptian name was Au Set. In human form, Isis also wore a cobra upon her forehead, much like Ua Zit, and is represented as wearing the wings of Nekhebt, indicating that She is the culmination of both deities.
Isis is attributed with the invention of agriculture, with the establishment of the laws of the land, and, until the arrival of Ptah, is credited with the creation of the cosmos. She also appropriates the position of Nut and Hathor.
Prior to Hathor, Nut was said to have existed when nothing else had been created, and that She was responsible for all that had come into being. Once Hathor became an important deity, Nut's importance was lessened, until Isis appropriated the personality of Hathor. Nut was thereafter known as the mother of Isis.
Because Isis was a later incarnation of Ua Zit, She was also an incarnation of the Goddess Hathor, the primal serpent. It is interesting to note that the symbol of a serpent as a symbol of a priestess or prophetess still appears in our language in the word 'pythoness'.
Isis was not the only female deity of the time, however. Maat, who represented the order of the universe and all that was righteous, retained her own individuality by becoming a possession of the male deities. Maat became known as the Eye of Horus at first, then later was known as the Eye of Ra, and finally the Eye of Ptah. Maat is also understood to represent the embodiment of the cobra, the essence of wisdom. Along with Maat, there were countless other lesser Goddesses, such as Bast, Iusaset, and Sekhmet.
Isis, however, was still in charge of Egypt, at least in a mythological sense. This fact is reflected in both her title as The Throne and in the dominance of the Queen over the King in terms of political power. Even wives enjoyed authority over their husbands, the husbands having agreed formally in the marriage contracts of the time. Anecdotes recounted by Herodotus indicate that the women went to the marketplace to carry out business affairs while their husbands stayed home weaving on their looms.
Daughters, not sons, inherited the royal throne, and all property went to the female line, from the rulers on down through the social structure. The woman was the mistress of the house, in complete control of all decisions regarding her property. Egyptian women even did all the wooing and often deliberately intoxicated men to weaken their protestations.
Eventually a subtle shift came about in the ruling class, whereupon brother-sister marriages developed, allowing sons to gain the royal privilege. As this shift in policy came about, it was reflected in the myth of Isis and Osiris. Osiris, who was Isis brother, also became Her lover.
Then, c. 2400 BC, a series of aggressive invasions began to move through Canaan down into Egypt. These Indo-European invaders brought their own religion with them, a patriarchal religion which worshiped a supreme Father deity. These invaders introduced the concept of light as good and dark as evil. This was a time of war, for the invaders appear to have been involved in a religious crusade of sorts.
The God which these invaders worshiped seems to have been the Zoroastrian God Ahura Mazda, also known as the Lord of Light. In light of this fact, the simultaneous appearance in the Pyramid Texts of the equation of Horus with Ra becomes important. Ra, much like Hor-Wer, is portrayed as the sun that rides the heavens in His sacred boat, and is known by the name Lord of Light.� This indicates that the God of the Indo-European invaders had invaded the mythological structure of Egypt.
This illustrates the proposition that religion and politics were identical, that no major event or battle could occur without being replicated through cultural mythology. As the invaders gained more territory, the theologies of the area became intertwined. Despite the conqueror's efforts to belittle and destroy Goddess worship, Isis and Her many masks of divinity continued to draw followers.
One example of this war between male and female deities is the legend of Ra and Zet, later called Apophis. Zet was the serpent of darkness Ra fought daily when the sun rose. The undercurrent of this myth can be seen as a struggle between the primal Goddess, a serpent, and Ra, the new God from the north.
Another tactic in this struggle between conflicting ideologies was the introduction of the God Ptah. Ptah was credited with the creation of all existence through an act of divine masturbation. This then eliminated the need for either Isis or Nut in the creation myths of Egypt. It was a deliberate attempt to establish the male deities as either the dominant husbands or the divine assassins of the female deities.
Then the northern groups, c. 1900 BC, brought cuneiform to Egypt. The introduction of cuneiform to Egypt at this time, when the patriarchal forces were clashing so severely with the matriarchal, suggests that existing tablets of laws could have been changed to fit the patriarchal beliefs. This would account for the gradual changes in the society of this time.
From c. 1900 BC up through c. 1570 BC, women lost their right to choose their own partners at will, and the wife became subject to her husbands lordship. It was also during this period that children became members of the father's kin, as opposed to the mother.
By c. 1570 BC, the patriarchy was firmly entrenched in Egypt, and the rulers had begun accepting wives sent to them from neighboring countries as a form of tribute. Hittite, Hurrian, and Kassite princesses married Egyptian kings. It was also during this time that there were no priestesses available in the temples, and the word pharaoh came to be applied solely to the king rather than the royal house. This drastic change in the social structure culminated in c. 1300 BC with the religious revolution of Akhnaton.
Akhnaton not only rejected all deities but Ra, who he renamed Aten, but he also relocated the traditional seat of power to El Amarna. In doing this, he succeeded in finally establishing a patriarchal society, nearly seventeen hundred years after the first introduction of male deities to Egyptian theology.
This did not completely decimate the worship of Isis as a deity. Followers of Isis spread outward in a variety of directions as the years progressed. A Roman era temple of Isis on the banks of the Thames in the British Isles attests to this very fact. But it did signal the end to the era of the matriarchal society in Egypt.
by Alexandria Thames
Matriarchy is a form of society in which power is with the women and especially with the mothers of a community. The word matriarchy derives from the Latin word mater meaning mother and the Greek word archein meaning to rule. There exists a different term for 'women's rule,' namely gynecocracy, sometimes referred to as gynocracy.
Matriarchy is distinct from matrilineality, where children are identified in terms of their mother rather than their father, and extended families and tribal alliances form along female blood-lines. For instance, in Jewish Halakhic tradition only a person born of a Jewish mother is automatically considered Jewish. Hence Jewish descent is passed on from the mother to the child.
Matriarchy is also distinct from matrilocality, which some anthropologists use to describe societies where maternal authority is prominent in domestic relations, owing to the husband joining the wife's family, rather than the wife moving to the husband's village or tribe, such that she is supported by her extended family, and husbands tend to be more socially isolated.
Some traditional matriarchal societies have been presented by scholars and indigenous speakers from still existing matriarchal societies at two World Congresses on Matriarchal Studies. The first one was held in 2003 in Luxembourg, Europe; it was sponsored by the Minister of Women's Affairs of Luxembourg, Marie-Josee Jacobs, and organized and guided by Heide Goettner-Abendroth. The second one took place in 2005 in San Marcos, Texas/USA, it was sponsored by Genevieve Vaughan and again led by Heide Goettner-Abendroth.
Due to a lack of any clear and consistent definition of the word 'matriarchy', the discussion remains confusing: The Wemale culture of western Seram, studied by A.E. Jensen during the Frobenius Institute expedition of 1938, is often indicated as an example of matriarchy. See: Karl Kerenyi noted in passing (introduction to Eleusis : Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter 1967, p. xxxii). On the other hand, anthropologist Donald Brown's list of "human universals" (i.e. features shared by all current human societies) includes men being the "dominant element" in public political affairs (Brown 1991, p. 137). He refers the opinion of mainstream anthropology.
Whether matriarchal societies might have existed at some time in the distant past is controversial. The controversy began in reaction to the book by Johann Jakob Bachofen Mother Right: An Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient World in 1861. Several generations of ethnologists were inspired by his pseudo-evolutionary theory of archaic matriarchy. Following him and Jane Ellen Harrison, several generations of scholars, arguing usually from myths or oral traditions and Neolithic female cult-figures, suggested that many ancient societies were matriarchal, or even that there existed a wide-ranging matriarchal society prior to the ancient cultures of which we are aware (see for example The White Goddess by Robert Graves). More recent archaeologists like Marija Gimbutas have argued for a widespread matriarchal culture in pre-Indo-European Old Europe of the Neolithic.
J.F. del Giorgio in The Oldest Europeans has opened a new view in the same line, observing that there was a widespread fall in women's rights from East to West, in synchronicity with the Indo-European invasions. He argues strongly that colleges of priestesses were prosecuted and replaced by colleges of priests, based in archaeological and historical evidence and relating it to ancient myths. He insists on the existence of post-glacial female-structured tribes in Europe, observing that such characteristics were typical in Basques and quoting well-proven genetically evidence of an homogenous pre-Indo-European population whose genes were akin to Basques. He also points to recent linguistic studies carried mainly in Germany that corroborates that assumption. While he refrains from mentioning matriarchy, he quotes ancient authors who did, and he insists in at least a matrifocal, matrilocal, matrilineal Paleolithic society.
On the other hand, authors like Cynthia Eller, professor at Montclair State University, as well as Philip G. Davis, author of Goddess Unmasked, have come to increasingly call in doubt the factual accuracy of these hypotheses. According to Professor Eller, Marija Gimbuta had a large part in constructing a myth of historical matriarchy by examining Eastern Europe cultures that, by and large, never really bore any resemblance in character to the alleged universal matriarchality of Gimbutas and Graves. She demonstrates that in "actually documented primitive societies" paternity is never ignored and that the sacred status of feminine goddesses does not automatically increase female social status, affirming that utopian matriachy is simply an inversion of antifeminism and in fact paralleling the denigrating exaltations of an idealized motherhood found in contemporary organized religion.
Matriarchies in Mythology
One area where written myths are available from an early period is the Aegean culture-zone, where the Minoan Great Goddess was worshipped in a society where women and men were allegedly equals. Gender equality is a typical characteristic of matriarchy, according to the claims of modern Matriarchal Studies.
Modern 'Goddess women' are sometimes too quick to assume that any culture that worships a Mother Goddess must be matriarchal. But some mentioned author believe there are traces, under the insistently patriarchal Olympian mythology of classical Greece, of earlier matrilineal and matrifocal systems. See the entries for Alcimede or for Hyas for examples.
A famous legendary gynarchy (not matriarchy) on the edges of the Greek cultural horizon was Amazon society, which took shape in the imaginations of classical Greeks, based on reports of Scythian and Sarmatian female status and even female warriors. However, extreme caution is called for in determining to what extent, if any, such myths or oral traditions reflected reality. About Amazons, Michael Grant claims that these female warriors were said to live at the boundaries of the world to which Greeks had travelled, making them kin to marvelous beings or monsters supposed to dwell in distant lands, like the Blemmyes or Cynocephali. Others like Gerhard P�llauer, Marguerite Rigoglioso and esoteric/neopagan author Vicki Noble disagree.
Regardless of actual historical fact, many cultures have myths about a time when women were dominant. Bamberger (1974) examines several of these myths from South American cultures, and concludes that, by portraying the women from this period as evil, they often serve to keep women under control. Historian Ronald Hutton has argued that there is no necessary correlation between the worship of female deities and relative levels of social or legal egalitarianism between the sexes. He has pointed out that within European history, in seventeenth century Spain there were many religious institutions staffed exclusively by women.
A female quasi-deity was a conspicuous part of public religious veneration, and cult images of female supernatural beings were frequently encountered. Spain can be compared to the seventeenth century Netherlands, where the worship of female quasi-deities was emphatically rejected and female clergy did not exist. Yet, the social and legal status of women was much higher in the Netherlands than in Spain during this period. In the Netherlands, women were freer to move about unwatched, and could own businesses of their own and separate property. In Spain, their public roles, and their rights under both law and unwritten custom, were sharply circumscribed. But these examples are all from the epoch of full patriarchal history.
The unclear concept of matriarchy, and of its replacement by "patriarchy" can be linked to the historical "inevitabilities" which the nineteenth century's concept of progress through cultural evolution introduced into anthropology. Friedrich Engels, among others, formed the notion that some primitive peoples did not grasp the link between sexual intercourse and pregnancy. They therefore had no clear notion of paternity, according to this hypothesis; women produced children mysteriously, without necessary links to the man or men they had sex with. When men discovered paternity, according to the hypothesis, they acted to claim power to monopolize women and claim children as their own offspring.
This belief system was the result of errors in early ethnography, which in return was the result of unsophisticated methods of field work. When strangers arrive and start asking where babies come from, the urge to respond imaginatively is hard to resist, as Margaret Mead discovered in Samoa. In fact, while prior to the discovery of egg cells and genetics there have been many different explanations of the mechanics of pregnancy and the relative contributions of either sex, no human group, however primitive, is unaware of the link between intercourse and pregnancy. The fact that each child has one unique father has come more recently, however; Greek and Roman writers thought that the seed of two men might both contribute to the character of the child. By the time these mistakes were corrected in anthropology, however, the idea that a matriarchy had once existed had been picked up on in comparative religion and archaeology, and was used as the basis of new hypotheses that were unrelated to the postulated ignorance of primitive people about paternity.
In the late nineteenth century, belief in primitive matriarchies was also allied with Max M�ller's hypothesis that an ethnically distinct Aryan race had invaded and displaced or dominated earlier populations in prehistoric Europe. Their conquests, according to M�ller, were responsible for the spread of the Indo-European languages; they would have also replaced an earlier language and culture in the invaded areas where Indo-European languages are now spoken. This theory, and the corresponding hypothesis for India, the Aryan invasion theory, are controversial. Marija Gimbutas has advocated the strongest form of the hypothesis, that of military conquest and forced cultural displacement, in recent decades, and given a lot of evidence.
Existing Matriarchal Societies Wikipedia
Amazon feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as it is expressed in art and literature in the physiques and feats of female athletes, martial artists, and other powerfully built women, and in gender-related and sexual orientations. Camille Paglia's interpretation of the "Uranian Aphrodite" is a good example of Amazon Feminism.
Amazon Feminism is an example of an evolutionary branch-off of Anarcha-Feminism, Third-wave feminism, and Riot Grrrl. It is best associated as forming during the 1990s via the writings of Camille Paglia. Historical criticism may hope to uncover more examples of Amazon feminism in the pre-90s literature.
Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes and discrimination against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look or behave as if they are passive, weak, and physically helpless.
Amazon feminism rejects the idea that certain characteristics or interests are inherently masculine (or feminine), and upholds and explores a vision of heroic womanhood. Amazon feminism supports and celebrates women who attain and express mental and physical prowess, for example female strength athletes, martial artists, soldiers/women in combat, firefighters, lumberjacks, astronauts, power lifters, wrestlers, boxers, etc.
The confidence and physical strength displayed by these women appeals to a sizeable group of men. Demonstrating the appeal of Amazon feminism, some of these men participate in contests of physical strength and athletic skill by wrestling female bodybuilders and other female strength athletes.
Some might equate Amazon Feminism with feminazism, misandry, Ayn Rand, and a severe hatred of masculinism, patriarchy, and the stereotype femme. It could also be associated with extremes view such as the SCUM Manifesto, which advocated a violent anarchic revolution to create an all-female society. Also, some criticize it as being anti-feminist, due to its connection to Camille Paglia and anti-men due to its connection with Valerie Solanas.
As noted in the writings of Camille Paglia, Amazon Feminism is not opposed to masculinism. Amazon Feminism is seeking true gender equality through strong "physical" examples of woman, not the promotion of meandrous rhetoric.
Amazon Feminism Wikipedia
Matriarchal societies gave way to patriarchal