"In The Beginning We Were All Created Female"
"This is a fundamental and recurring pattern in nature: Life is a female environment in which the male appears, often periodically, and created by the female, to perform highly specialized tasks related to species reproduction and a more complex evolution. , a freshwater crustacean, reproduces several generations of females by parthenogenesis; the egg and its own polar body mate to form a complete set of genes for a female offspring. Once annually, at the end of the year's cycle, a short-lived male group is produced; the males specialize in manufacturing leathery egg cases able to survive the winter. Among honeybees the drone group is produced and regulated by the sterile daughter workers and the fertile queen. Drones exist to mate with the queen. An average of seven drones per hive accomplish this act each season, and then the entire male group is destroyed by the workers. Among whiptail lizards in the American South-west, four species are parthenogenetic; males are unknown among the desert grassland, plateau, and Chihuahua whiptails, and have been found only rarely among the checkered whiptails. "
THE FIRST SEX: "IN THE BEGINNING, WE WERE ALL CREATED FEMALE"
In the beginning . . . was a very female sea. For two-and-a-half billion years on earth, all life-forms floated in the womb-like environment of the planetary ocean-nourished and protected by its fluid chemicals, rocked by the lunar-tidal rhythms. Charles Darwin believed the menstrual cycle originated here, organically echoing the moon-pulse of the sea . And, because this longest period of life's time on earth was dominated by marine forms reproducing parthenogenetically, he concluded that the female principle was primordial. In the beginning, life did not gestate within the body of any creature, but within the ocean womb containing all organic life. There were no specialized sex organs; rather, a generalized female existence reproduced itself within the female body of the sea. 1
Before more complex life forms could develop and move onto land, it was necessary to miniaturize the oceanic environment, to reproduce it on a small and mobile scale. Soft, moist eggs deposited on dry ground and exposed to air would die; life could not move beyond the water-hugging amphibian stage. In the course of evolution, the ocean — the protective and nourishing space, the amniotic fluids, even the lunar-tidal rhythm — was transferred into the individual female body. And the penis, a mechanical device for land reproduction, evolved.<
The penis first appeared in the Age of Reptiles, about 200 million years ago. Our archetypal association of the snake with the phallus contains, no doubt, this genetic memory.
This is a fundamental and recurring pattern in nature: Life is a female environment in which the male appears, often periodically, and created by the female, to perform highly specialized tasks related to species reproduction and a more complex evolution. , a freshwater crustacean, reproduces several generations of females by parthenogenesis; the egg and its own polar body mate to form a complete set of genes for a female offspring. Once annually, at the end of the year's cycle, a short-lived male group is produced; the males specialize in manufacturing leathery egg cases able to survive the winter. Among honeybees the drone group is produced and regulated by the sterile daughter workers and the fertile queen. Drones exist to mate with the queen. An average of seven drones per hive accomplish this act each season, and then the entire male group is destroyed by the workers. Among whiptail lizards in the American South-west, four species are parthenogenetic; males are unknown among the desert grassland, plateau, and Chihuahua whiptails, and have been found only rarely among the checkered whiptails.
Among mammals, even among humans, parthenogenesis is not technically impossible. Every female egg contains a polar body with a complete set of chromosomes; the polar body and the egg, if united, could form a daughter embryo. In fact, ovarian cysts are unfertilized eggs that have joined with their polar bodies, been implanted in the ovarian wall, and started to develop there.
This is not to say that males are an unnecessary sex. Parthenogenesis is a cloning process. Sexual reproduction, which enhances the variety and health of the gene pool, is necessary for the kind of complex evolution that has produced the human species. The point being made here is simply that, when it comes to the two sexes, one of us has been around a lot longer than the other.
In The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality, Mary Jane Sherfey, M.D., described her discovery in 1961 of something called the inductor theory. The inductor theory stated that "All mammalian embryos, male and female, are anatomically female during the early stages of fetal life." 2 Sherfey wondered why this theory had been buried in the medical literature since 1951, completely ignored by the profession. The men who made this herstory-making discovery simply didn't want it to be true.
Sherfey pioneered the discussion of the inductor theory ; and now, with modifications based on further data, its findings are accepted as facts of mammalian — including human — development. As Stephen Jay Gould describes it, the embryo in its first eight weeks is an "indifferent" creature, with bisexual potential. In the eighth week, if a Y-chromosome-bearing sperm fuses with the egg, the gonads will develop into testes, which secrete androgen, which in turn induces male genitalia to develop. In the absence of androgen, the embryo develops into a female. There is a difference in the development of the internal and external genitalia, however. For the internal genitalia — the fallopian tubes and ovaries, or the sperm-carrying ducts — "the early embryo contains precursors of both sexes." In the presence or absence of androgen, as one set develops the other degenerates. With the external genitalia, "the different organs of male and female develop along diverging lines from the same precursor." This means, in effect, that the clitoris and the penis are the same organ, formed from the same tissue. The labia majora and the scrotum are one, indistinguishable in the early embryonic stages; in the presence of androgen "The two lips simply grow longer, fold over and fuse along the midline, forming the scrotal sac."
Gould concludes : "The female course of development is, in a sense, biologically intrinsic to all mammals. It is the pattern that unfolds in the absence of any hormonal influence. The male route is a modification induced by secretion of androgens from the developing testes." 3
The vulnerability of the male newcomer within the female environment is well known. Vaginal secretions are more destructive to the Y-bearing sperm. The mortality rate is higher among neonate and infant males. within the womb the male fetus, for the first two months, is protected by being virtually indistinguishable from a female. After that, it must produce large amounts of the masculinizing hormone in order to define itself as male, to achieve and to maintain its sexual identity. For all we know the Near Eastern myths upon which our Western mythologies are built, those which portray the young god or hero battling against a female dragon, have some analog here, in utero, where the male fetus wages a kind of chemical war against rebecoming female.
For now, it is enough to say that "maleness" among mammals is not a primary state, but differentiates from the original female biochemistry and anatomy. The original libido of warm-blooded animals is female, and the male — or maleness — is a derivation from this primary female pattern. Why, then, did the medical men, the scientists, take longer to figure out this basic biological fact than it took them to split the atom? And why, once this fact was noted, did they turn around and bury it in professional silence for ten years, until a woman dug it up again? Why indeed.
For about two thousand years of Western history, female sexuality was denied; when it could not be denied it was condemned as evil. The female was seen as divinely designed to be a passive vessel, serving reproductive purposes only. In one not-too-ancient dictionary, "clitoris" was defined as a "rudimentary organ," while "masculinity" equalled "The Cosmic generative force" . . . ! With Freud, female sexuality was not so much "rediscovered" as pathologized. Freud dismissed the clitoris as an undeveloped masculine organ and defined original libido as male. Clitoral eroticism was reduced to a perverse neurosis. Even after Masters's and Johnson's laboratory studies were published in Human Sexual Response in 1966, their findings were not integrated into psychoanalytical theory. In Mary Jane Sherfey's research during that period, she found not one work of comparative anatomy that described — or even mentioned — the deeper-lying clitoral structures; yet every other structure of the human body was described in living detail. Even today, with our relative sophistication of 1987, we are frequently whistled at by magazine headlines that promise breathless articles announcing the discovery of a new "spot" — a G-spot, an X-spot — located within the vagina. within all these new "spots" exists the old wistful desire to deny the existence of the clitoris as a trigger-organ of female orgasm.
Why? There is the generalized , traditional fear of female sexuality. Further, there is discomfort with the similarity, with the common origin, of the female clitoris and the male penis. Women are used to hearing the clitoris described as an "undeveloped penis"; men are not used to thinking of the penis as an overdeveloped clitoris. Finally, and most seriously, there is a profound psychological and institutional reluctance to face the repercussions of the fact that the female clitoris is the only organ in the human body whose purpose is exclusively that of erotic stimulation and release. What does this mean? It means that for the human female, alone among all earth's life-forms, sexuality and reproduction are not inseparable. It is the male penis, carrier of both semen and sexual response, that is simultaneously procreative and erotic. If we wanted to reduce one of the sexes to a purely reproductive function, on the basis of its anatomy (we don't), it would be the male sex that qualified for such a reduction, not the female. Not the human female.
But these are only biological facts. These are only biological realities. As we know, facts and realities can be, and are, systematically ignored in the service of established ideologies.
Throughout the world today virtually all religious, cultural, economic, and political institutions stand, where they were built centuries ago, on the solid foundation of an erroneous concept. A concept that assumes the psychic passivity, the creative inferiority, and the sexual secondariness of women. This enshrined concept states that men exist to create the human world, while women exist to reproduce humans. Period. If we argue that data exists — not solely biological, but archaeological, mythological, anthropological, and historical data — which refutes the universality of this erroneous concept, we are told to shut up; because something called "God" supports the erroneous concept, and that's all that matters. That's the final word. Throughout the world, throughout what we know of history, something called "God" has been used to support the denial, the condemnation, and the mutilation of female sexuality. Of the female sex, ourselves. Today, in parts of Africa — predominantly among African Muslims, but also among African Christians and Jews, and some tribal beliefs — young girls are still subjected to clitoridectomy. This surgery, often performed by older women with broken glass or knives, excises the clitoris, severing the nerves of orgasm; the operation is intended to force the girl to concentrate on her vagina as a reproductive vessel. Infibulation, a more thorough operation, removes the labia minora and much of the labia majora; the girl is then closed up with thorns or required to lie with her legs tied together until her entire vaginal orifice is fused shut, with a straw inserted to allow passage of urine and menstrual blood. On the wedding night the young woman is slit open by a midwife or her husband; further cutting and reclosing is performed before and after childbirth. Complications from these surgeries are numerous, including death from infection, hemorrhage, inability to urinate, scar tissue preventing dilation during labor, painful coitus, and infertility due to chronic pelvic infection. In 1976 an estimated 10 million women were involved with this operation. 4 And something called "God" justified it; a "God" who supposedly created young girls as filthy sex maniacs who must then be mutilated to turn them into docile breeders.
The word "infibulation" comes from the Latin fibula, meaning a "clasp." Those civilized Romans, great highway builders, also invented the technology of fastening metal clasps through the prepuces of young girls to enforce chastity. This practice was copied by Christian crusaders during the early Middle Ages in Europe; they locked up their wives and daughters in metal "chastity belts" and then took the keys with them while they were gone — often for many years — fighting for "God" in the Near East.
And, lest through hypocrisy and racism we dismiss these practices as merely "Barbaric" or "Ancient," we must recall that clitoridectomies were performed in the last century on young girls and women in both Europe and America. This surgery, very popular with nineteenth-century Victorians, was inflicted on any female considered to be "oversexed," or as a punishment for masturbation, or as a cure for "madness." These determinations were all made by male relatives, male physicians, and male clerics, and the women involved had no legal say in the matter.
These are extreme examples of the repression and mutilation of female sexuality, always sanctioned, however remotely and dishonestly, by something called "God." All the other repressions and mutilations — of the body , of the mind, of the soul, of our experienced female selves — are so well known and documented that they need no numeration at this point; we can all make our own lists. The point is this: Wherever repression of female sexuality, and of the female sex, exists — and, at the present writing, this is everywhere on earth — we find the same underlying assumptions. These are ontological assumptions — assumptions made at the very root of things — about the nature of life itself. They are (1) that the world was created by a male deity figure, or God; (2) that existing world orders, or cultures, were made by and for men, with God's sanction; (3) that females are an auxiliary sex, who exist to serve and populate these male world orders; (4) that autonomous female sexuality poses a wild and lethal threat to these world orders, and therefore must be controlled and repressed; and finally (5) that God's existence as a male sanctions this repression. The perfect circularity, or tautology, of these assumptions only helps to bind them more securely around the human psyche. That they are as erroneous as they are universal seems to pose no problem to their upholders. After all , wherever we go on earth, every intact institution — religious, legal, governmental, economic, military, communications, and customs — is built on the solid slab of these assumptions. And that's a pretty entrenched error.
In the post-World War II United States — as well as in Europe and most of the world generally — we've gone through a secularizing period in which some of these assumptions have been loosened up, and even been made to crumble, under questioning. But now the backlash is upon us. Today, spokespeople for various fundamentalist religious beliefs use modern media to broadcast a very old idea: that female sexuality — i.e., feminists, and feminist demands for abortion, contraception, reproductive autonomy, childcare, equal pay, psychological integrity — constitutes a threat to "our civilization"; and this amounts to a "Blasphemy against God." Whores of Babylon, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and the "menace of world communism" all somehow get subliminally mixed up in this feminist threat — for some very good historic and psychological reasons — which we will explore later. For now, it is enough to say that "God" and "civilization" are loaded concepts (loaded with dynamite!) that can always be brought in to end an argument that cannot otherwise be refuted. Or, for those who don't lean too heavily on "God," or who major in "civilization," you can always quote an anthropologist!
For, just as established religions assume the maleness of God, just as Freud and psychoanalysis assumed the maleness of libido, so have the social sciences — and in particular anthropology — assumed the generic maleness of human evolution. Both popular and academic anthropological writers have presented us with scenarios of human evolution that feature, almost exclusively, the adventures and inventions of man the hunter, man the toolmaker, man the territorial marker, and so forth. Woman is not comprehended as an evolutionary or evolutionizing creature. She is treated rather as an auxiliary to a male-dominated evolutionary process; she mothers him, she mates him, she cooks his dinner, she follows around after him picking up his loose rocks. He evolves, she follows ; he evolutionizes, she adjusts. If the book jackets don't give us pictures of female Homo sapiens being dragged by the hair through 2 or 3 million years of he-man evolution, we are left to assume this was the situation.
This, despite the known fact that among contemporary and historic hunting-and-gathering people, as among our remote hunting-and-gathering ancestors, 75 percent to 80 percent of the group's subsistence comes from the women's food-gathering activities. This, despite the known fact that the oldest tools used by contemporary hunters and gatherers, and the oldest, most primal tools ever found in ancient sites, are women's digging sticks. This, despite worldwide legends that cite women as the first users and domesticators of fire. This, despite the known fact that women were the first potters, the first weavers, the first textile-dyers and hide-tanners, the first to gather and study medicinal plants — i.e., the first doctors — and on and on. Observing the linguistic interplay between mothers and infants, mothers and children, and among work-groups of women, it is easy to speculate on the female contribution to the origin and elaboration of language. That the first time measurements ever made, the first formal calendars, were women's lunar-markings on painted pebbles and carved sticks is also known. And it is thoroughly known that the only "God-image" ever painted on rock, carved in stone, or sculpted in clay, from the Upper Paleolithic to the Middle Neolithic — and that's roughly 30,000 years — was the image of a human female.
In 1948 The Gate of Horn was published in Britain; in 1963 it was published in America, retitled Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age. In this pioneering work, archaeologist and scholar G. Rachel Levy showed the unbroken continuity of religious images and ideas descending from the Cro-Magnon peoples of the Upper Paleolithic period in Ice Age Europe, through the Mesolithic and Neolithic developments in the Near East, and down to our own historical time. As Levy noted, these early people are lost to us in the mists of time; but their primal visions, images, and gestalts of human experience on this planet still resonate in our psyches, as well as in our historic religious-ontological symbols. These Early Stone Age people "bequeathed to all humanity a foundation of ideas upon which the mind could raise its structures." 5 And what were these primal human images and ideas? The cave as the female womb; The Mother as a pregnant earth; the magical fertile female as The Mother of all animals; the Venus of Laussel standing with the horn of the moon upraised in her hand; the cave as the female tomb where life is buried, painted blood red, and awaiting rebirth. Levy shows the continuity of these images and symbols through the Late Neolithic Near Eastern rites and mythologies, and their endurance 30,000 years later in "modern" religions. In Christianity, for example, with its central image of the birth of the sacred child, in a cave-like shelter, surrounded by magic animals; and, especially in Catholicism, the icon of the great mother who stands on the horned moon and awaits the rebirth of the world.
The evidence leaves no doubt that these images were at the origins of what we call human psychological and spiritual expression. Levy's book is a masterpiece; it received great praise upon both its British and American publications; and has since been virtually bypassed and ignored by the anthropological-archaeological-academic establishments. Why? Because her evidence is irrefutable. It shows with clarity — and in the solidity of stone and bone — that the first 30,000 years of Homo sapiens' existence was dominated by a celebration of the female processes: of the mysteries of menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth; of the analogous abundance of the earth; of the seasonal movement of animals and the cycles of time in the Great Round of The Mother. The Gate of Horn is as close as we can come to reading the "sacred book" of our early human ancestors. And it confirms what too many people do not want to know: that the first "God" was female.
Since Levy wrote, the tendency has been to relegate these Old Stone Age and Neolithic images to the psychological real m— they've become "Archetypes of the unconscious" and so forth, while anthropological writers proper, both academic and popular, continue to explain physical, real human development solely in terms of the experiences of the male body in hunting, aggression, and toolmaking. Thus the female images — which are there, and cannot be denied are sideswiped, reduced to "The subjective," "The mythic realms"; and thus the first 30,000 years of our human history is denied to us, relegated to a "mind trip" or "psychological software." Even among feminists, in recent years, there has arisen doubt that these images and symbols might be anything but "mythology"— i.e., unrealities.
To approach our human past — and the female God — we need a wagon with at least two wheels: one is the mythical-historical-archaeological; the other is the biological-anthropological. A strong track has already been laid down for the mythical-historical-archaeological wheel ; milestones along that track, along with G. Rachel Levy's great work, are J. J. Bachofen's Myth, Religion and Mother-Right, Robert Briffault's The Mothers, Helen Diner's Mothers and Amazons, Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance, Robert Graves's The White Goddess, O. G. S. Crawford's The Eye Goddess, Sibylle von Cles-Reden's In the Realm of the Great Goddess, Michael Dames's Silbury Treasure and Avebury Cycle, Marija Gimbutas's The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe; and most recently Elizabeth G. Davis's The First Sex; Merlin Stone's When God Was a Woman and Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood; Phyllis Chesler's Women and Madness and About Men; Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born; Mary Daly's Beyond God the Father, Gyn-Ecology, and Pure Lust; Susan Griffin's Woman and Nature; Anne Cameron's Daughters of Copper Woman-and many many more, including the richly useful Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker.
The other side of our wagon — the biological-anthropological side — has almost no wheel and no track; not because there is no important place to go in that direction, but because the physical-cultural anthropologists are off somewhere else, busily mapping the evolution of Tarzan. There is no body of anthropological work based on the evolution of female biology. With rare exceptions, there have been no attempts whatsoever to study the evolution of human physiology and cultural organization — from pre-hominid to "modern man" — from the perspective of the definitive changes undergone by the female in the process of that evolution. Popular books on this subject, by Lionel Tiger, Desmond Morris, et al., are invariably male-oriented, treating the evolution of the female as sex object only, from monkey-in-heat to hot bunny. One delightful exception is Elaine Morgan's The Descent of Woman; during 12 million years of dry Pliocene, Morgan speculates, the female prehominid took to the oceans, surviving in the warm and food-filled coastal waters and during this experience underwent a sea-change from knuckle-walking, rear-sex primate to upright human sexual body, to which the male primate responded by becoming man. Morgan argues convincingly that the human species survived the long Pliocene drought through the cooperation and social invention of the evolving hominid females in their adaptation to the sea; academic "experts" ignore this theory , but they have no other explanation for our Pliocene survival, for our successful evolution from ape to human during this difficult period, or for the many ways in which our human bodies resemble the bodies of sea mammals, rather than primates.
In The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light, historian William Irwin Thompson points out that early human evolution occurred in three critical stages: (1) hominization, in which our primate bodies became human, not only in walking upright and freeing the hands, but specifically in our sexual characteristics and functions; (2) symbolization, in which we began using speech, marking time, painting and sculpting images; and (3) agriculturalization, in which we domesticated seeds and began control of food production. And , as Thompson writes, all three stages were initiated and developed by the human female. 6 The symbol-making and agricultural stages have been studied, and the originating role of women in these stages is known; it is sexual hominization which, as yet, has barely been explored.
Why? Why indeed . Because sexual hominization is almost exclusively the story of the human female. The mechanics and anatomy of male sexuality, after all, haven't changed greatly since the primates made love. The revolution in human sexuality — the revolution that made us human — resulted from evolutionary changes that occurred in the female body. These changes were not primarily related to mammalian reproduction, but to human sexual relationship. No one knows the order in which they occurred, but taken together, as an evolved cluster of sexual characteristics, they constitute a truly radical sexual metamorphosis undergone by the human female:
Elimination of the estrus cycle, and development of the menstrual cycle, meant that women were not periodically in heat, but capable of sexual activity at any time. Pregnancy could occur during a part of the cycle; but for most of the cycle sex could happen without necessarily resulting in pregnancy. Among all other animals, the estrus cycle determines that copulation always results in pregnancy, and has no other than a reproductive purpose.
Development of the clitoris and evolution of the vagina meant a greatly enhanced sexuality and orgasmic potential in human females compared to all other animals.
The change from rear to frontal sex, we can imagine, created an enormous change in relations between the sexes; frontal sex means a prolonged and enhanced lovemaking period, and what might be called the personalization of sex. The emotion-evoking role of face-to-face intercourse in the development of human self-consciousness has yet to be evaluated (she turned around and looked him in the eye: and there was light!)
Development of breasts added to woman's potential for sexual arousal; further, combined with frontal sex, no doubt the female's maternal and social feelings were also now aroused by the personal lover, whose body was now analogous to the infant's body at her breast.
As Thompson points out, such radical changes in the female body alone were enough to trigger the hominization of the species. Human beings, with these changes, became the only creatures on earth for whom copulation occurs — can occur, anytime — for nonreproductive purposes. Human sex thus became a multipurpose activity. It can happen for emotional bonding, for social bonding, for pleasure, for communication, for shelter and comfort, for personal release, for escape — as well as for reproduction of the species. And this is one of the original and major, determining differences between humans and all other animals, birds, reptiles, insects, fishes, worms . . . for whom copulation exists only and solely for species reproduction.
The human race has been definitively shaped by the evolution/ revolution of the female body into a capacity for nonreproductive sex.
This is not just a physical fact. It is a cultural, religious, and political fact of primary significance.
Many feminists today are unsure whether studies of evolutionary biology, or of religious mythology, can have political relevance for contemporary women. We believe that nothing could be more politically relevant than knowing why we got where we are now, by seeing how we got here, and where we began.
In the beginning, the first environment for all new life was female: the physical/ emotional/ spiritual body of The Mother, and the communal body of women — young girls, grown women, older women working together. When hunting-and-gathering people move, the infant is carried bound close to The Mother's body; when they settle, the women form an "Inner circle" campsite of women and children. The socialization process begins here.
Human culture is marked by a strengthening and prolongation of the relation between mothers and offspring. For its first year the human child is virtually an "embryo" outside the womb, extremely vulnerable and totally dependent. Female group behavior — the cooperative care-sharing among mothers and children, older and younger women, in the tasks of daily life — emerges from the fact of this prolonged dependence of the human child on the human female for its survival. Males help but they also leave; the male body comes and goes, but the female presence is constant. Females train, discipline, and protect the young; beyond infant care, the maintenance and leadership of the entire kin-group is the task of women . The female animal is always on the alert, for on her rests the responsibility not only of feeding the young, but of keeping the young from being food for others. She is the giver and also the sustainer of beginning life. Among humans, males help with protection and food acquisition; but it is the communal group of females that surrounds the child, in its first four to six years of life, with a strong physical, emotional, traditional, and linguistic presence. And this is the foundation of social life and human culture.
The popular image of early human society as being dominated — indeed created — by sexist male hunters and ferocious territorial head-bangers just doesn't hold water. If the first humans had depended solely on despotic and aggressive male leaders, or on several males in chronic, ritualistic contention for power-human society would never have developed. Human culture could never have been invented. The human presence on earth would never have evolved.
The fact is that it was from this first inner circle of women — the campsite, the fire-site, the cave, the first hearth, the first circle of birth — that human society evolved. As hominids evolved into Paleolithic Homo sapiens, and then into settled and complex Neolithic village people on the time-edge of "civilization," these tens of thousands of years of human culture were shaped and sustained by communities of creative, sexually and psychically active women — women who were inventors, producers, scientists, physicians, lawgivers, visionary shamans, artists. Women who were also The Mothers — receivers and transmitters of terrestrial and cosmic energy.
We have to understand how and why these ancient millennia of womancultures have been buried — ignored, denied, passed off as "mythology" or "primitive prehistoric origins" — by Western male historians who insist (and often really believe) that "real history" began only about five thousand years ago with the relatively recent institutions of patriarchy.
Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara (2013-12-10). The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (pp. 4-12). HarperCollins.
1. Helen Diner, Mothers and Amazons (New York: Doubleday /Anchor, 1973), 74. Diner is referring to Charles Darwin , Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, volume 1 (New York: J. A. Hill and Co., 1904), 164— 68; Darwin believed both sexes, originally , were maternal, and thought the prostate gland might be a rudimentary uterus.
2. Mary Jane Sherfey, M.D., The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), 43.
3. Stephen Jay Gould , Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1983), 153— 54.
4. Fran P. Hosken, Women's International Network News 2, no. 1 (January 1976): 30— 44.
5. G. Rachel Levy, Religious Conceptions of the Stone Age, and Their Influence Upon European Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 70.
6. William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), 43— 156.
The Re-Emergence of the Divine Feminine and its Significance for Spiritual, Psychological and Evolutionary Growth
Summary (Abstract) - Franceska Perot
“For millennia a patriarchal society has ruled to the exclusion of the feminine or the Goddess who was peacefully worshipped before being completely replaced by a warrior Father God. The Goddess and hence women have been relegated to 2nd class citizens. The concept of woman as defined by traditional patriarchal society has disempowered the female sex and deemed them inferior. This exclusion and denigration of the divine feminine has done serious damage to women and men both individually and collectively, not to mention the damage this masculine mindset has caused to the environment through wars and other aggressive acts.
In this dissertation, the history of the Goddess from the Paleolithic to the present is discussed and causes for the rise of patriarchy, such as invasion by warrior cults, the advent of language and the development of the ego are explored. Then the re-emergence of the divine feminine and its psychological, spiritual and evolutionary effects are discussed.
This negative perception of the self by women is challenged by re-imagining women after the Greek Goddess archetypes: Athena, Hera, Demeter, Artemis, Aphrodite and Persephone. The Goddess archetypes are discussed in a therapeutical context as well as other therapeutical techniques such as aspecting, visualizations and women's' groups and circles. The author proposes the re-introduction of the "Sacred Marriage", a sacred ritual performed in temples since Neolithic times and in certain sects today, as a technique for therapy. This sexual ritual along with an understanding of the history of the divine feminine will have individual, collective and evolutionary effects.
The Re-Emergence of the Divine Feminine and its Significance for Spiritual, Psychological and Evolutionary Growth
For the last 2,000 to 4,000 years God has been depicted as masculine in gender. This is due in part to the influence of the three major religions today - Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
For as long as 20,000 years prior to that, God was seen as feminine, Goddess. She reigned supreme and was known as Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Cybele, Demeter, Artemis, Hera, Tara, Kali and Athena. She was a wise creator and was not only a fertility symbol but had wide-ranging societal influence on both men and women.
During her reign, women could buy and sell property, have businesses and inherit land and title from their mothers. Even in patriarchal Christianity, women can explore the lost glory of Lilith, Eve and Mary. With the advent of patriarchy, women were merely the property of their fathers and husbands, who held the power of life and death over them. Women were considered inherently sinful and were to be closely controlled. It has only been in the last few decades that the idea of a Divine Feminine is once again becoming popular and can be discussed openly without fear of reprisal, at least in most of the Western world. This movement will further be recognized as necessary for balance of the masculine and feminine, to bring the world back to order.
This re-emergence is significant for the spiritual, psychological and evolutionary growth of males and females. The resacralization of the feminine will allow males to connect with their feminine side without losing their masculinity. (p.10) Females can grow spiritually and psychologically with Goddess archetypes. They now have alternatives to becoming aggressive like men or staying home to have babies, as the patriarchal view would describe femininity. All of this can be accomplished without the loss of her femininity. Her power is rooted within her and these role models will bring alternatives to current paradigms.
Both males and females can grow as was meant. This direction will lead to a balance between the sexes that will allow for evolutionary growth as it was originally intended. The pendulum has swung both ways and can come to rest in the middle to create a new paradigm, a new consciousness.
This paper will explore Goddess religions around the world both ancient and current, starting in the Paleolithic Age, during the time that humans were hunter-gatherers with the discovery of "Venus" figurines and through the Neolithic Age when agriculture was invented and humans gathered in villages with a Goddess temple at the center of their community. Next the Goddess was relegated to the lesser position as consort with the invasion of warrior tribes from the North during the Iron Age. Finally, patriarchy was in full swing with the rise of Judaism and its dislike of any "idols", especially those of the Goddess.
Different theories will be presented as to how and why this shift from matriarchy to patriarchy occurred. Some theorists believe that it was the influence of Northern invaders, natural disasters or perhaps even the advent of the written language, which caused a shift in brain functioning.
A Jungian analysis of the Divine Feminine archetype or Great Mother will be presented. Lastly, feminist psychology as it applies to both male and female growth and how this growth is necessary for humans to reach the next level of evolutionary consciousness as a species, will be discussed. This new evolutionary consciousness or revolution will also be discussed.
A complete section on psychotherapeutic interventions will be presented and discussion will ensue as to how these interventions can bring about balance in men and women. These interventions include integrating different aspects of the Goddesses into your life so an analysis of several Goddesses and what they represent will be discussed. Integration can be accomplished through creative visualization, dreamwork, art therapy, psychodrama, women's circles and chanting Divine names. Also the author proposes the re-introduction of the "Sacred Marriage" as a therapeutic technique for growth.
A correlation between this paper and the empirical study that preceded it will be discussed. Conclusions of the thoughts presented in this paper and the future that can be brought about by the revolution of the Divine Feminine will be discussed at the end of this paper.
DEFINITION OF THE GODDESS
What is the Goddess, the Divine Feminine, the Great Mother? She is the embodiment of the feminine principle, a mythological character, a psychological archetype necessary for growth and a religious figure. "The Mother Goddess, wherever she is found, is an image that inspires and focuses a perception of the universe as an organic, alive and sacred whole, in which humanity, the Earth and all life on Earth participate as her children" (Baring & Cashford, 1993). (p.12) The Goddess "...contains all opposites within herself, including male and female, creation and destruction. And she recognizes that life and death are of equal weight, held in balance to preserve the order of the universe" (Husain, 1997).
In the Gnostic Christian texts found in Nag Hamadi, Egypt in 1945 (Dead Sea Scrolls) is a section, which is believed to be the voice of Sophia (divine feminine wisdom) as she describes herself in a text called Thunder, Perfect Mind, (Kraemer, 2004):
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the barren one and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
And it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father and the
Sister of my husband, and he is my offspring...
Give heed to me.
I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.
From a psychological standpoint the Goddess is an archetype that exists in the collective unconscious. She can be fragmented into lesser Goddesses, which each have particular needs and wants which exert influence over the individual (Bolen, 1984). The Great Mother is a symbolic image whose expression is found in the Goddess represented by myth and artistic creations (Neumann, 1974). A Goddess is a psychological description of a complex female character type that we intuitively recognize in ourselves, others and our culture (Woolger, 1989).
Spiritually, the worship of the Goddess included the celebration of major events in a woman's life that are not seen today. These celebrations included rituals for the onset of menstruation, childbirth and menopause (Reilly, 1995). The Goddess can bring sustenance to the transpersonal realm, to a life that is devoid of female models. (Zweig, 1990). The Great Mother is immanent as opposed to the transcendent Father God (Harvey, 1995).
The Goddess was devoted to the irreverent female sexuality. Sex was seen as sacred and was vital to nature, not vulgar (Estes, 1995). The body was beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of or hidden, it was to be celebrated and enjoyed.
HISTORY OF THE GODDESS
In order to understand where humanity needs to go it is important to understand the history of the Goddess to see where humanity has been.
The Paleolithic Age Goddess appeared as early as 20,000 B.C. in the form of statues and cave drawings. These statues of the Goddess known as "Venus" figurines have been discovered from Spain to Siberia. These figures were carved in stone or bone and sometimes in ivory. They depict a round, large-breasted motherly figure. They are usually small and often pregnant.
During this time most of the glaciers that had covered Europe and Asia had melted and grasslands now appeared which supported herds of grazing animals. Homo sapiens also appeared on the scene and hunted these animals for food.
More than 130 of the Venus statues have been discovered at Paleolithic sites (Baring, 1993). Many of the statues had some sort of red pigment on them indicating a connection with blood and markings believed to connect them with a menstrual cycle and the moon cycles. Those tribes, who did not migrate with the herds, drew their Goddess figures on the cave walls where they lived.
No similar male figures have been found. It is believed that these are fertility Goddesses due to the exaggeration of the size of the breasts and stomach. Other theories of their purpose are that they are actual women, ancient pornography or teaching models to demonstrate the birth process to first time mothers. Marija Gimbutas suggested that they were "symbolic or mythic figures used to reenact seasonal and other myths" (Gimbutas, 1991).
Due to the statues's role in rituals, they can be linked to the Goddess or her representative. But more than simple fertility Goddesses these statues conveyed the mystery of birth and the female body at that time period. Since these statues were discovered at different sites all over the two continents then this image of the Divine Feminine was a universal consciousness and not a localized ideal.”
The Re-Emergence of the Divine Feminine and its Significance for Spiritual, Psychological and Evolutionary Growth
Franceska Perot, Ph.D., Boca Raton, Florida, USA 2008, pgs. 8-14.
So intent was Paul on declaring maleness to be first that he was willing to blind himself to the biological truth of birth
The Daughters of Eve
Even today Hebrew males are taught to offer the daily prayer, 'Blessed Art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has not made me a woman.'
Mohammed stated, 'When Eve was created, Satan rejoiced.'
As the Hebrew myth of the creation was later adopted into the sacred literature of Christianity, along with all the other writings of the Old Testament, the writers and religious leaders who followed Christ assumed the same pose of contempt for the female, continuing to use religion to lock women further into the role of passive and inferior beings , and thus the more easily controlled property of men. As the years went on and the position and status of women continued to lose ground, the Church held fast to its goals of creating and maintaining a male-dominated society. For hadn't it been one of the first decrees of the god who made the world and all life? Women were to be regarded as mindless, carnal creatures, both attitudes justified and 'proved' by the Paradise myth.
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians we read, 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything' (Eph. 5: 22- 24).
This brings to mind the quote from Hosea in which the husband so totally identified himself with the male deity that his words became the words of Yahweh. In the new religion not only the priests, but all men, were to be considered as direct messengers of the Lord, not merely in Church but in the privacy of a woman's kitchen or even in her bed.
Using the now-familiar Eden myth, Paul asserted that this was the reason that women must be obedient, denying themselves even the faculty of their vocal chords, not to mention their minds. We read in I Tim. 2: 11-14, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed and then Eve and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.'
And in Corinthians the word of the creation legend was brought home once again. 'The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head for as much as he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man. Neither was man created for the woman but the woman for the man' (I Cor: 11:3, 7., 9).
Statements carefully designed to suppress the earlier social structure continually presented the myth of Adam and Eve as divine proof that man must hold the ultimate authority. The status of the male deity was the status of the male mortal, and it was surely no accident that the Levite priests of Yahweh had fought so bitterly for his position. So intent was Paul on declaring maleness to be first that he was willing to blind himself to the biological truth of birth —"For the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man." Woman bears the pain but man takes the credit."
Stone, Merlin (2012-05-09). When God Was A Woman (Kindle Locations 3807-3831). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Mother Tao, Source of All Things
"The expansion and contraction of the universe could be conceived as the in-breath and out-breath of Mother Tao. Tao is the emptiness out of which all things arose and into which they will again return and arise again ... and return ... and arise again ... and so on. Mother Tao is sometimes referred to as 'the Primal Unity' or 'the One' and suggests the image of a circle- the going out and the coming in of life. This circle of unity applies not only to the grand cosmological cycle of the universe but more immediately to the life cycle of the individual- all that transpires between the in-breath at birth and the out-breath on dying. In this too, we find parallels between The Mother Tao and the Hindu Brahman."
Mother Tao, Source of All Things
Long before Heaven or Earth is made,
It is silent and shapeless,
It is always present, endlessly in motion From it like a mother every living thing has come.
I do not know what to call it.
So I call it Tao. -Lao Tzu
The Tao is also referred to as "The Mother of all things' or as 'the what-is-not that is the source of the what-is.' In some respects, 'Mother Tao' harkens back to the goddess religions that dominated in matriarchal Neolithic cultures throughout the world. Yet Mother Tao is not to be imaged or conceived of as a divine personage, but as a kind of "silent and shapeless" protolife from which "every living thing has come." As Chuang Tzu put it, "Tao makes things what they are, but is not itself a thing"— even a divine thing. within the "silent and shapeless" womb of Mother Tao, every existing, or potentially existing, thing or event resides.
All cultures are made in the image of their cosmology , that is, in their understanding of the origin and structure of the universe. Cosmology deeply affects not only our relationship to the universe but our notions of time and the creative process. In Western Biblical cosmology, we have a divine person who wills the universe into existence. As a personality (albeit a divine one), He is subject to loneliness , anger, jealousy, and revenge, as well as goodness, mercy, kindness, and joy. In six days, He made the universe and all the things that fill it. Like so many mudpies, He fashioned the heavens, the earth, the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the creatures of the earth, and eventually, human beings. All of these were made by deliberate, discreet operations within linear time. First He made this, and then He made that. The Divine Person stands apart from His creation. He is wholly spiritual ; His creation, wholly material. He is good; His creation, fallen and corrupt . Man, as a part of this fallen creation, can only be redeemed by His divine intervention.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.... He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ALBERT EINSTEIN
From the Taoist perspective, there is no Maker or Creator God. Nature (the universe) is not made, but is tzu-jan 'of itself so.' The process of the universe is not one of deliberate manufacture but of organic growth. From the Taoist perspective, everything that now exists (or ever will) came into being when Mother Tao was 'mysteriously brought into existence.' Everything has grown out of this One source and is latent in it. In the Chuang Tzu we read, 'Heaven and Earth were born at the same time I was, and the ten thousand things are one with me.' 10 The universe , being without a maker, is also without a cause or a boss. No-thing has caused other things to be; all things have mutually arisen (hsiang-shan) and therefore mutually create and sustain one another.
With respect to the origin of the universe, there are striking parallels between Taoist cosmology and the theories of modern physicists. The theory of the big bang suggests that the entire universe began with a single giant explosion. From some 'silent and shapeless' stuff (gases), the entire material universe was born. All subsequent effects, including the evolution of animate life and eventually of humankind, can be seen as having been latent in the primordial gasses that produced the big bang. For many years now, it has been the consensus view among physicists that the universe has been continually expanding since the big bang. More recently, a number of physicists have theorized that it may eventually begin to shrink and collapse upon itself. Research is currently being conducted to test this hypothesis. Should it ultimately prove out, this too would fit the Taoist cosmology. If it turns out that the Universe will eventually collapse back into itself, it may well be that this pattern of expansion and contraction is an endlessly repeating cycle that has been going on for incalculable eons.
The expansion and contraction of the universe could be conceived as the in-breath and out-breath of Mother Tao. Tao is the emptiness out of which all things arose and into which they will again return and arise again ... and return ... and arise again ... and so on. Mother Tao is sometimes referred to as 'the Primal Unity' or 'the One' and suggests the image of a circle — the going out and the coming in of life. This circle of unity applies not only to the grand cosmological cycle of the universe but more immediately to the life cycle of the individual — all that transpires between the in-breath at birth and the out-breath on dying. In this too, we find parallels between The Mother Tao and the Hindu Brahman.
Tranquil, let one worship It
As that from which he came forth
As that into which he will be dissolved
As that in which he breathes. -UPANISHADS
This is Mother Tao — the womb, tomb, and breath of life —the silent shapeless stuff from which one has arisen, into which he shall return, and in which he lives and breathes. Mother Tao is his past, his present, and his future; and past, present, and future are one in birth, death , and breath."
Boldt, Laurence G.. The Tao of Abundance: Eight Ancient Principles for Living Abundantly in the 21st Century (Compass) (Kindle Locations 245-289). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The Paraclete Shri Mataji "God created only one world. We have made different countries. Not only that, but we think that we are all different people. Of course He has not created even one leaf like the other. In the same way we are created differently. This is variety to create beauty. But this has led us to lots of confusions. So this Kundalini is your Mother. She is your individual Mother. And She knows everything about you. And She is anxious to give your second birth. She is anxious that you should get this benevolence. But it is your pure desire only that can manifest this happening.
All other desires are impure. Because it is said in economics that in general desires are not satiable, wants are not satiable. So, these desires are not pure. We move from one desire to another desire. So the pure desire within us, which is the power of Kundalini, is to be one with the Divine, to be in yoga with the Divine.
This is achieved through the awakening of Kundalini.
But what is Kundalini, is the reflection of the Holy Ghost. We have God the father, God the son, but what about The Mother? How can you think of a father, and a son and not of The Mother? Holy Ghost is the Primordial Mother. And She is reflected within us as the Kundalini. And in the heart is reflected the God Almighty. God Almighty is the witness. Witness of the play of the Holy Ghost that is His power. They are inseparable like moon and moonlight or sun and sunlight. That is why when the Yoga takes place, the Kundalini rises up to the head here up to the fontanel bone area, breaks through this fontanel area and you feel the cool breeze of the Holy Ghost coming out of your head. This is the seat of the spirit though in human beings it resides in the heart."
The Divine Mother/Paraclete Shri Mataji
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