Sunday, 13 January 2008

Chapter Five

The Matercentric Systems Of The Past

AT PRESENT, most of the souls on earth are halfway through a soul cycle of spiritual development. The first half, for man, involves movement away from the Great Mother, into independent creativity, followed by a return to Her through unconditional love. The first part of the cycle has resulted in a male dominated society, which stresses the fulfilment of men's individual desire and creativity. It devalues the feminine and unconditional love for all, as a way of focusing on separation and self- consciousness for men. Once this part of the cycle is complete, the second half begins, which necessarily reevaluates the feminine, and restores the sovereignty of women as the representatives of the Creator. During the first part of the cycle, it is men who develop a strong ego, supported and nourished by women. In the second half, women are able to do the same, this time supported by men, who voluntarily place their skills in the service of women, in order to learn about unconditional love.
Before our known history, there was a previous cycle in which a patriarchal society was followed by a matercentric one, and there may have been others even before that. We do not know how far back this pattern goes, because there are few records left to inform us, even if we could interpret them correctly. It is indisputably clear, however, even though evidence has been lost, destroyed or suppressed, that we have not always lived in a patriarchal society, in which women are regarded as inferior beings. Many books have been written recently on these matercentric cultures, which revered a Goddess rather than a god, and paid homage to females as equal to, if not superior to, males. We have difficulties in interpreting information which comes from a vastly different culture, but it seems clear that these societies were characterised by harmony and co-operation. Men were not mistreated, as women are in a patriarchy, which has led many male scholars to say that they could not possibly be matercentric. At best, they see them as ones in which women were allowed a share in all aspects of community life. They cannot imagine a society in which one group of people governs without oppression being present, nor one where women are the governors.
In the previous matercentric age, there were many old souls, ones who had been through all the reincarnations they needed on earth, and they were ready to leave for new experiences in other dimensions. To replace these old souls, a new group of young souls came to earth, and began a new cycle. To begin with, the old souls protected and advised the young and baby souls who were incarnating for the first time. They were probably the princes, religious leaders and government of the time, and the new souls were the common people. It seems likely too that the old souls were women, and that those they nurtured to the point of independence were the males who would take over. This system worked very well until the old souls left, leaving behind them inexperienced and relatively unevolved souls who had to exist without their support. This was a necessary event, even though it led to apparent chaos. Man needed to make his own mistakes, learn from them, and acquire consciousness, if he was to become an independent creator.
There are many people around today who believe that man has previously reached a level of technological ability which matches that of modern society, then lost it. The stories of Atlantis, for example, describe a sophisticated society, able to harness huge amounts of energy through the use of crystals. It is possible that the destruction of Atlantean society, if it existed, was for the same reason that our own society faces a threat to its survival. The level of evolution of those who ruled society was not sufficient to cope with the development of Science. Even if the evolved souls who left the planet warned the young souls of the danger, it is likely that their warnings went unheeded. They may in fact have removed most of what they thought was harmful from the new souls, in much the same way as we lock the bleach in a cupboard out of the way of the baby. Nevertheless, the patriarchal societies could have continued to produce scientific wonders, without the balancing effect of unconditional love. The result was destruction.
When human society changes from a matercentric to a patriarchal system, there is a resultant loss of harmony. What was once happy and peaceful becomes discordant and troubled by conflict. We seem to have stories about this in the Bible, which talks about the Garden of Eden before the Fall, when Adam and Eve lived in Paradise. After their banishment from Eden, they had to work by the sweat of their brow to survive. Eve was cursed with pain in childbirth to punish her for her disobedience of god, and the first murder occurred, when Cain killed his brother, Abel. The story as told in the Bible does not fit our ideas of a matercentric society giving way to a patriarchy, until we look at even earlier Jewish stories. In them, the first woman was not Eve, who was created from a rib of Adam, but Lilith. She was free and independent, not subservient to Adam. She represents the matercentric woman. After a while, she did not suit Adam, and was pushed out of Eden. Eve was her replacement, a woman created by the male god for man's use. She represents patriarchal woman, who is told by god that obedience and submission is her role. As soon as man i.e. Adam ceases to connect totally with the Great Mother and goes his own way, then Paradise comes to an end. Naturally enough, Eve is blamed for the hardship and unhappiness which followed, and which has not yet come to an end. She is seen as the one who tempted Adam to disobey the god, and caused our fall from grace and sinlessness. All we can say is that she was framed!
There are echoes of this same story in the Tarot, about which we'll say more later. But if we briefly look at the card which is called 'The Lovers,' we can see the same scenario. A man is choosing between two women. Each artist who has interpreted the Tarot has drawn it in different ways, but the underlying message is always the same. When man chooses the matercentric woman, often symbolised by an older woman, or his mother, he is choosing the path of the Goddess. When he selects the younger, or more passive woman, he is following the path of the god.
Nowadays, it seems normal to us to have a male god. When we look at some Eastern religions which still have goddesses, we dismiss them as pagan or superstitious belief systems. But the further back one looks into history, the more one finds goddesses and not gods. Men tend to dismiss this finding with comments about primitive nature worship, and the supposition that women were revered only because of their childbearing powers. There is a widespread attitude that goddess worship was a part of man's religious 'childhood,' and that he abandoned it as soon as he became more mature and enlightened. Man does not wish to know that at one time women were leaders of their people, and men, as well as women, prayed to a female deity. A good example of this way of thinking can be shown when we look at Egypt and the Pharaohs. Originally, the Pharaohs were female, and the representatives of the all-powerful goddess Isis. They were looked on as divine themselves. Later on, when Egypt became patriarchal, descent was still traced through the female line, because this was the link to Isis. In order for a man to rule, he had to marry either his sister, or in some cases, his mother. Not only did this shock the Victorian men who were exploring the tombs of the Pharaohs, it left them baffled, because they could think of no other reason than moral decadence to explain this behaviour. What is even more telling, is that they uncovered the rich tombs of the earlier Pharaohs, who were clearly the supreme rulers, and assumed that they were men. Even when the sarcophagus contained the remains of a woman, they thought that this must be the wife of the Pharaoh, or perhaps his mother. The same has occurred when the graves of female warriors have been opened. Even though the women were buried with their weapons and clearly died in battle, the archaeologists have refused to accept the obvious conclusion. They have twisted themselves in knots with stories of wives who were buried instead of the male warrior because his body was not recovered from the battlefield etc. Sometimes, of course, women have been forced to commit suicide and be interred with their husband's body when he died. Slaves too. But in these cases, the male is clearly identifiable and in a prominent position in the grave.
Britain was also matercentric at one time, though of course, records do not exist of this time, only myth and legend. When we look back only two thousand years or so, to the time when the Romans invaded Britain, there were still female leaders. Boudicca, or Boadicea, was a queen in her own right, and any school child can give you her name. The Romans, who were the incoming patriarchal culture, were aware that descent came through the female line, not the male. It was for this reason that they raped and then murdered her daughters, ensuring that Boudicca's kingdom (sic) would be left without heirs.
The deities in the last matercentric society were not all female, although the Great Mother was seen as the Creator. There was god worship too. Sometimes the Goddess had a consort, or a son, who was always lesser than Her. His role varied. In many societies, he became the sacrificial victim who ensured that the crops grew. This was often enacted literally, and a young man would be killed to safeguard the harvest. His blood was the offering of the people to the Great Mother, in return for which they would receive food to sustain them. His death also reflected the endless cycle of birth, death and renewal which the people saw around them and accepted as part of the Great Mother's nature. The parallels between these beliefs and Christianity have been pointed out by many writers. In both traditions, a young man sacrifices himself for others, and his blood is offered as new life for them. In both traditions he is the son of a virgin, either the Great Mother, or the Virgin Mary. In the matercentric system, however, a virgin is a whole woman, who needs no man to complete her. She is independent and self-sufficient. In a patriarchy, a virgin is a woman who has not had sex with a man, and is valued because of this. She can be bought and possessed by her husband as untouched goods.
Some matercentric gods, like Pan, were half-animal, half-human, because the Great Mother is also Goddess of Nature. Pan was half- goat, half-man, but there were others which combined horses, bulls, stags and dogs with humans. The strength and potency of these animals was emphasised in the god, who would often be depicted with a huge erect phallus. Although we like to talk knowledgeably today about 'phallic symbols,' like cars, tall buildings etc., what we have to remember is that the penis is itself a phallic symbol. It represents the part of man which belongs to the Great Mother, and can create by reuniting with her. Matercentric society celebrated sexuality, as we have mentioned before. A rampant male god not only emphasised fertility and abundance, but indicated an honest appreciation of the male sex organ. Elsewhere, of course, the breasts and vulva of the woman were depicted as sacred, which is a long way from our society's distaste for them as anything other than secret sex toys for men. Now we have lost our reverence for our Creator, the penis, breasts and vulva are seen from an entirely sexual viewpoint, rather than a reproductive or creative one. Because we do not wish to enquire too closely into the sacredness of these parts of the body, because they are representative of the Great Mother, we have placed taboos on them. They are 'naughty'.
It may be that in a matercentric age, men were subservient sexually as well as politically, which is the reverse of the case in our society. Christianity emphasises to us that it is a woman's duty to satisfy her husband's sexual needs, because it is a patriarchal religion.
Pamela: When I first married, out of my sexual ignorance I bought a book which promised me a totally wonderful sex life as a married woman. It told me that my happiness lay in what was called 'loving service' to my man. Even if I felt no desire for sex, I was to submit to my husband's desires, and in that way find fulfilment. Eventually, the book said, emotional gratification at having pleased my husband would give rise to physical pleasure, but if it never happened, I would still be happy because my husband was satisfied.
This attitude towards female sexuality is still prevalent twenty years on, despite reams of articles and books on the 'new woman' and her enjoyment of multiple orgasms. Nor is it wrong. The patriarchal woman can gain immense emotional satisfaction from seeing the pleasure of her husband, and desire nothing for herself. Others simply put up with sex as a duty, or positively hate it. In a matercentric society, part of man's service to women may well be to place her sexual pleasure before his own desires, and women may expect as well as want this. More and more women are moving towards this by reconnecting with their full sexual nature, and demanding fulfilment. The fulfilment will come when both sexes move onto the path of the Goddess. Until then, women will still need to give, and men to receive.
In patriarchal pornography, we find fantasies of men subjugating women, and taking the emotional content out of sex. This allows men to use women without giving love to them. In matercentric times, men will have fantasies of worshipping women. Here, the emotional contact is much greater, and there may be no thought at all of sex with the woman. The very idea of this both frightens and repulses a truly patriarchal man, because he always does his best to remove feelings for the woman from any sexual experience. He fears that if he were to begin to care, then his selfish behaviour would be compromised, and he would gain less pleasure. Many men today feel forced to take their partner's needs seriously, when in fact they don't care two hoots whether she has an orgasm or not. This produces a confusing situation. The woman does not experience much pleasure, because the man is not giving her love, yet he may be a technically proficient lover. She may conclude that she is at fault, which does nothing for the development of either her ego or her sex life. Or she may have a very loving man as a partner, yet still be unable to enjoy sex fully. There is no way that a woman can become completely responsive on a sexual level while she still has internal conflict, however loving her partner is. She needs to resolve this rather than try complicated sexual manoeuvres. The form of her difficulties may vary but the content is always the same - the patriarchal part of the woman is denying her in favour of the man, or the man, whatever his overt behaviour, is still locked into the patriarchal attitude that his pleasure is paramount. The answer for all women is to develop their connection to the Great Mother, and learn to love themselves, in whatever way is necessary.
Although we can say definitely that Jehovah, Allah and Jupiter are patriarchal gods, and that Pan is a matercentric god, there are others who fall between the two categories, such as Dionysius, Jesus and Buddha. Dionysius and Jesus were both reputedly sons of a virgin and therefore of the Great Mother. Both died and were reborn. They each talked about freedom and unconditional love, and attacked the unloving rigid patriarchal societies of their day. They were unconventional and life- affirming. The worship of Dionysius, like the worship of Jesus, soon became corrupted from its original ideals. Like Pan, who ended his days as the Christian Devil, Dionysius was eventually seen as a dissolute and evil character. As for Jesus, - his words were twisted to serve patriarchal society, when in fact many of his values and aspirations for people are totally in line with those of the Goddess worshippers before him. Buddhism, which arose from the words and ideas of Gautama Buddha, was likewise never entirely patriarchal in concept. It is very similar to Taoism, which was probably a matercentric religion, and which slowly became patriarchal as the patriarchal age dawned in China.
Matercentric beliefs never completely died out, despite the strenuous efforts of the rulers and priests. Christianity incorporates many ideas which come from a much older system than Jehovah worship. The idea of 'turning the other cheek,' for example, did not fit in with Jewish ideas of retribution and revenge by god. Nor did Christ's teachings on god being a god for all peoples, not merely the Jews. Other matercentric ideas were practised in secret, or changed into a form which could be incorporated into the prevailing patriarchal religion. Festivals and celebrations which had originated to worship the Great Mother, were Christianised and purified of all 'pagan' content.
There was no lack of effort when it came to patriarchal society's attempt to eradicate all vestiges of goddess worship. People were not only told that the new male god would punish them for worshipping a female deity, but that such activity was evil and immoral. We have few reliable records of what bloodshed resulted from the wiping out of matercentric religions, but we do have an example much closer to our own era, which has been well documented. The wholesale slaughter of women claimed to be witches, in Mediaeval times, is a clear manifestation of the fear and hatred of the Great Mother. Some of the women may have practised the Old religion, Wicca, in which women were valued, but many were entirely innocent and ignorant victims of a mad blood lust focused on females. The male priests claimed the women were in league with the Devil, who was the Horned god, or Pan, of the Old religion. No mention was made that the supreme deity they worshipped was female. Having said the women were evil, the men felt free to practise all sorts of cruelties on them. This process of dehumanising people so that you can torture and kill them is not confined to the era of witch hunting, of course. We can see it in society today, wherever there is war and hatred of any kind.
There is good reason to believe that the elimination of knowledge about matercentric societies still goes on. It is now too difficult to deny that the old Minoan civilisation, centred on Crete, was female-orientated, but scholars can still evade or diminish the mounting evidence that Amazonian i.e. warrior women, existed. Patriarchal society is unhappy to acknowledge that women were ever anything other than pawns in a male game. Even when we have a female ruler of a country, the woman is criticised for behaviour which would go unremarked on in a male. A good example is Catherine the Great of Russia, whose supposed proclivity for young male lovers is commented on far more than if she had been male. There is also patronising surprise in historians' voices when a female rules capably, and credit is often given to her male advisers.
One of the difficulties faced by anyone trying to piece together a picture of a matercentric society is the lack of hard evidence. Part of the problem is undoubtedly the destruction of information by patriarchal men, but other factors contribute as well. Patriarchal society enjoys laws, rules, hierarchies and structures, knowledge of which is usually preserved in documents or on tablets of stone. The Ten Commandments is a classic example of this. Matercentric society, being much freer and laissez-faire, would be unlikely to have so many records, except perhaps ones concerning harvests or trade. The art of the culture would be well represented, since it would be highly valued as an expression of the life force, but it is more difficult to interpret clearly than lists of kings, wars and conquests. Also, we may not have evidence from any truly matercentric society, but from ones which were a transitional stage. If we look for example at Wicca, which has managed to survive for many centuries, despite Christianity's attempts to eradicate it, we see a religion which is a mishmash of both patriarchal and matercentric features. It worships the Great Mother, and espouses individual freedom and love, but it has rituals and regulations, and a hierarchical structure of high priests and priestesses. In a truly matercentric society, the woman who becomes the leader does not do so by virtue of passing exams, fighting for supremacy, or having a title conferred on her. She exhibits the wisdom and love of the Great Mother, in great measure, and it is this which gives her power. In such a society, there can be no artificial demarcation lines between religious and secular life. All is one.
In one sense, it could be said that there will never be a matercentric religion or society, and one has never existed in the past. The coming of a matercentric age means the end of organised religion, with its dogma and structures. Each person will be free to worship the Great Mother in any form, - in ways which we may not be able to imagine at the moment. There will be no necessity for books which instruct you in how to live your life, or for buildings which separate worship from everyday existence. Every activity will be harmonious, and therefore an offering to the Great Mother, who merely wishes us to be happy and creative. Naturally, people may still congregate together for all sorts of reasons, but the formalising of this into a set ritual will no longer exist, because it destroys spontaneity. Priests also cannot be necessary in a society which allows an individual to contact the Creator directly. While the matercentric age is still coming into being, there will be those who are 'further along' in their evolution than others, and therefore more in touch with the Great Mother. They can help and advise others who wish it, but in no way will this imply that they are superior or that they must be obeyed. It is patriarchal society which insists on rank and concepts of progress towards the deity or a heaven. Such a thing will not exist in a truly matercentric era, which sees everyone as a unique individual, yet an equal part of an undivided creation.
Some of these ideas are very difficult to assimilate. We are so used to rigid structures in both religion and society in general that we can't envisage doing without them. But men in particular are going to find that a world in which no one gives or receives orders is much happier for them. Very few men get to give orders; most have to follow them, and not usually in the interests of their own good. We can see this very clearly if we look at the events of the First World War. Millions of men went 'over the top' to be mowed down by machine gun fire, on the orders of generals safely tucked up at Headquarters. Most obeyed the orders without question. Those who refused, or deserted to avoid their fate, were killed by their own side as traitors. We can't imagine women in the same situation. Not only would it put paid to the reproduction of human beings if this happened, but a large group of women would not walk to their deaths simply because someone has ordered them to. They are quite capable of sacrificing themselves for love of people, but not for an abstract idea like patriotism.
Some people will argue that if society is not organised, then there will be a wasting of resources, and this is one of the reasons why the last matercentric society, if it indeed existed, died out. Discipline, efficiency and structures are necessary to progress. If people are allowed to do whatever they want to do, who will plant the crops and harvest them; who will do the jobs no one wants to do - the shit-work of society, like emptying dustbins and cleaning the streets, digging for coal and caring for the mentally insane? There is an underlying assumption that most of our actions are motivated by necessity, duty or financial need rather than pleasure. Remove those, and everyone will sit around contemplating their navels or getting drunk rather than working. If there is no reward in the shape of money, power and status, the story goes, who will bother to train for years to become an accountant or doctor?
The collision between the matercentric way of looking at life and the patriarchal equivalent is shown by Shakespeare in 'Anthony and Cleopatra.' Cleopatra's Egypt was a last bastion of matercentric society, with a Queen who was the divine representative of the Goddess Isis, and a relaxed, pleasure- loving ethos. The Egyptians loved their queen, who was the embodiment of a rounded human being. She was not perfect, but she loved life, and she was capable of deep emotional and physical response to others. The Romans, in contrast, were focused on work, which in this case meant conquest, and the disciplining of large bodies of men into armies. They had a contempt for the common people which enabled them to use them as pawns in a power game. They saw women, emotions and pleasure as unnecessary luxuries, and despised them. Anthony has a foot in both camps. The matercentric side of him adores Cleopatra, but the patriarchal part owes allegiance to Rome and concepts such as honour, loyalty and obedience. Though he chooses Cleopatra, he is still divided within himself, and loses his life as a result. Rome wins, and Caesar adds Egypt to the Empire. Cleopatra's children are murdered, so that there will be no rebellions in the future.
So, to get back to the issue of the whether a matercentric society is wasteful, what exactly would happen within it? Would there be large-scale idleness and hedonism, leaving essential work undone, as Caesar obviously thought in 'Anthony and Cleopatra'? The answer is both yes and no. Our society makes meaningless work in large quantities. Most bureaucracies and legal or governmental systems generate huge amounts of non- productive paperwork. Large multinational companies do the same. Products are manufactured to have a brief life, so that the consumer will have to replace the item within a short space of time. Efficient and long-lasting machines are suppressed by vested interests. We use fossil fuels in large quantities to run internal combustion engines, which are only 20 -25% efficient, and run about in them while they are half-empty. It is a cliche to say that we have a disposable society, but nevertheless it is true. We cut down trees to make advertising hand-outs which reach only as far as the rubbish bin, and package everything in plastic which then has to be thrown away. Our technology has enabled us to lead healthier and more prosperous lives, in some ways, but there is no doubt that it is hugely wasteful of time, energy, resources and human potential. In a matercentric society, since there would be no structures, there would be no waste of people's time in supporting the structures. No taxation or law means no tax inspectors or lawyers. No crime means no policemen or criminals. Health as a result of harmony means fewer doctors or nurses. People will be free to choose an activity which fulfils them, and makes them happy. In a system which has underlying harmony, no direction of people into specific areas, like agriculture or mining will be necessary. It will work organically, without the necessity for regulatory devices and coercion, and no one will be deprived of anything because they choose not to 'work.' Jesus puts it beautifully in the Bible when he describes his vision of a world which is responding only to love.
'Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.'
All this is a long way off, and we could be accused of naive idealism about the far future, which may never happen. Of course none of this will occur overnight, just as the change-over from the last matercentric era did not happen in an instant. What we can do, though, is to trust that the Great Mother has our welfare in mind, and that harmony and happiness is possible. Only our belief that structures and rules are necessary keeps them in existence. We can, if we choose, throw away the crutches, and walk without them, or we can dig in our heels and refuse to move.
It is far easier and more sensible, to mix our metaphors well and truly now, to swim with the current rather than against it. In the last analysis, it makes very little difference if we resist the changes which are happening in our society. They are manifestations of the Will of the Great Mother moving, and both necessary and inevitable. They will produce confusion, upheaval and distress in direct proportion to our resistance to them. If we do not trust that the changes are for the good of all, however they might look, we will fight to retain the world as we have known it. Men in particular may resist the growing power of women with great fear and rage, to the point of being willing to destroy the planet rather than allow the necessary movement towards the feminine. There are many famous predictions that the world will come to an end towards the close of this century. They are right, but it does not have to be through fire, famine, nuclear war or a comet striking the earth, as some of the hypotheses suggest. The end of the world will be the end of patriarchal society. Those souls who refuse to move with the Will of the Great Mother may shift to another reality in which one of these awful scenarios actually occurs. This will not be punishment by the Great Mother, but a result of their own choices. They will prefer to experience this catastrophe rather than respond to the movement towards the Great Mother. Others may not have such an extreme response, but feel that a few concessions here and there are all that is necessary. They may go through the motions of changing their behaviour to fit in with new levels of consciousness they do not actually feel, and be confused when their intellect tells them one thing and their emotions another. We all prefer the devil we know to the devil we don't, except that in this case the devil is not evil but the Great Mother, misunderstood and devalued for millenia. She is here to give us all we need. All we have to do is ask. As Jesus said. 'Knock and the door will be opened. Seek and you shall find.' As soon as we want joy and unlimited creativity, the Great Mother will show us the way to find it.