Sunday, 13 January 2008

Chapter Four

The Goddess In Our Present Day Society

ROBERT GRAVES made an observation in his book 'The White Goddess,' that a poem was a true poem if it gave you a 'tickly' feeling when you read it, and that the feeling would come when the poem was related to the White Goddess. It's what the author James Joyce called 'the agenbite of inwit,' and can be experienced through art, music and dance, as well as through literature and film. The feeling has no accepted label in our society, but can be described as a recognition of truth, which is felt at an emotional or intuitive level. It arises from connection to the Great Mother, who is the whole of truth, and reminds us of Her existence. The words re-cognition and re-mind show us that we are remembering something which we have forgotten, since the prefix, re, means 'again.' The form in which the 'aha!' is experienced varies enormously, but in essence it is always a reconnection to the love we experienced when we were fully one with the Great Mother. Often, it can be painful, since it reminds us, however briefly, of the time when we were blissfully happy, in union with Her and with All that is. As a result of the pain of separation from the Great Mother and each other, we may look for Her in outer things; in money, in sexual activity, in drugs; all the things which seem likely to give us a taste of joy. We have forgotten that the capacity for joy comes from within, and we move from one transient pleasure to another, seeking, but always looking in the wrong place.
Some popular music taps into our connections with the Goddess, since it is not only 'classical' or 'serious' music which has a monopoly on this. John Lennon, for example, in songs like 'Woman,' or 'Imagine,' could reach a wide audience with his insights. Even 'Heavy Metal' music, often derided as mindless sexist garbage, sometimes contains images and sounds which reach to the part of us crying for help from the Great Mother. Just because a song seems banal to us on an intellectual level, does not mean it is valueless. It may be extremely helpful to those who wish to find a way home to the Great Mother, and absolutely right for them.
Many love stories through the ages have also evoked the Goddess; Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet,' for example. Although Romeo and Juliet had a matercentric concept of love for each other, they lived within a patriarchal society; their families were more interested in conflict and control than love. The secrecy which resulted from this, led eventually to the tragic deaths of the lovers. Obviously, many patriarchal commentators on the play have come to different conclusions, explaining the tragedy as having been caused by the impulsiveness and inexperience of two teenagers, who have unrealistic and probably temporary feelings of love for each other. There have been thousands of love stories which paint a similar picture. In them, lovers desire a world in which they can freely express themselves, yet this is denied by society, which insists on setting love within very firm boundaries, and controlling the way in which it is expressed. Other love stories show another aspect of the Goddess - one in which She works through a mortal woman to act as the inspirational Muse for a writer or artist. The Italian writer Dante exemplifies this. He fell in love with a woman called Beatrice, whom he had only seen from a distance. His immense feelings of love gave him his creative energy, even though there was never a 'proper' relationship between them.
Over the years, all great artists have attacked patriarchal society in one way or another, whether by focusing on its narrowness, greed, selfishness and disharmony, or by seeking themselves to live life differently, in a more life-affirming way. It is unavoidable that they do this, since the vision and genius which makes them great writers and painters, comes directly from the Great Mother, even if the patriarchal side of them distorts the information they receive from Her. Society has attempted to counteract their vision: by making their art into a religious activity, interpreted and controlled by the rulers, by censorship, or by turning their work into a bland, watered-down version of itself, acceptable to patriarchal society and thus no threat to it.
It is not only art which patriarchal society seeks to suppress. Anything which reflects the Goddess is fearful to the rulers, and must be eliminated or controlled. This is particularly true of sexuality. In no other area of life is there so much fear, conditioning, secrecy and hypocrisy. A President of the United States can remain in office despite his secret dealings with the enemies of the state, yet could not survive any sort of sex scandal. Our laws on pornography, to give another example, are riddled with fear, confusion, and very strong emotions.
In a male-dominated society, it is easy to see why pornography which reduces woman to a two dimensional image is popular. It allows men solitary sexual stimulation without the tedious business of having to relate to a flesh and blood human being. It also allows fantasies to be explored which cannot be acted out in real life. Prostitution offers the same advantages to men. What is difficult to understand is why some men oppose it, and pass laws to eradicate it. In many ways, pornography can be quite useful, in that it shows us the gap between behaviour and fantasy. We may wish to be a certain kind of person, and control our actions to fit in with this, but if we have not suppressed our fantasies, they show us where we're really at on the level of desire.
Bill: I had experience of this some years ago, when I began to realise that some of my sexual fantasies were quite sick. My first reaction was to suppress them. I was not 'that sort of person.' This worked for a time, then they returned, stronger than before, showing that this was not the way to deal with them. I surrendered to them, and used them for masturbation, whereupon they lost their power to attract me. I found that my 'sick' fantasies gave me an awareness of myself which enabled me to grow, and that opportunity would have been lost had I censored them as unacceptable and pushed them from my awareness.
If we look closely at pornography, it reveals not only a great deal of information about ourselves, but about our society and the Great Mother. A common male fantasy, for example, is of using a woman sexually in a selfish and disposable way. This may be acted out by visiting a prostitute, or it may stay firmly in the realm of ideas. What it shows, is that part of the man is still firmly on the path of the god, and whatever his outward behaviour, is still desiring to use women rather than serve them.
Another fairly common male fantasy is of seducing a virginal child or inexperienced girl. The scenarios vary. Sometimes force is used, sometimes not. Sometimes the girl responds with delight, thus boosting the man's ego, or she responds with fear, giving him a sense of power in a different way. Other men have heavily sadistic fantasies, of raping or torturing women, or, another favourite, watching two women making love. These are all fairly solidly patriarchal fantasies. The man is not yet ready to see women as anything other than objects for the gratification of his ego. He may of course go even further in his desires, into the realms of the totally socially unacceptable, and be stimulated by the idea of sex with small children or animals, by violence to the point of death, and by things like excreta, urine and fetishistic objects.
Not all pornography paints the same picture. It ranges over all the possible levels of development, and gives us a truer vision of our society than observable sexual behaviour does. We can see for example, that when a man turns on to the path of the Goddess, his sexual fantasies change. Many will begin to dream about a dominating woman, who initiates sex, or one who uses him as a sex slave for her own pleasure. In their 'ordinary' lives, they may still behave in an entirely patriarchal way, yet have a strong desire for punishment by a woman because of their misuse of her over the millenia, and act this out with a prostitute or through pornographic literature. Others may have taken their development further, and at the fantasy level, adore and worship women. Possibly, in 'real' life they cannot find a woman willing to be worshipped, or they wish to test out what it feels like in fantasy, before risking it in actuality.
There is, of course, a similar pattern with women. Patriarchal women commonly have rape fantasies, or ones in which they are irresistibly taken over by a man who skilfully and excitingly makes love to them. If they have been conditioned almost entirely out of sexual desire, this may be transmuted into fantasies of meeting a man who is loving, caring and sensitive, without any sexual element being present. Some imagine making love with a group of men, who may restrain or force them, yet they enjoy the experience. The common thread is the passivity. Sex is something which happens to them, and they do not initiate it, even though in daily life they may be relatively assertive women. In some cases this passivity may be a denial that they want sex, and in others it may be a lingering hope that if they do remain 'good' girls, the Prince will come, and they will live in bliss for ever.
When women move on to the path of the Goddess, their fantasies also change, just as men's do, but they move into a more active expression of desire. They may dream of humiliating a man, by having sex with someone else in front of him, or physically punishing him. They may fantasize about choosing a partner from ten willing sex slaves, and having total fulfilment without the need to consider the man's satisfaction all the time. The common factor is that they are now willing to acknowledge their sexual desires, and take steps to satisfy them, rather than waiting meekly for a man to do this.
Fantasy and pornography do not only show us some of our levels of development, they also display clearly some of our internal conflicts. A man who has the extremely common fantasy of wishing to use a woman sexually, without any concern for her consent or pleasure, also wants, although he may not be conscious of it, the unconditional love of a woman. Many women who have been raped can support this contention. They report that the man, after brutally raping them, asked for love and forgiveness. It would be easy to say that this desire is quite easy to fulfil for men. Women seem to adore men who are utterly selfish, and will endure all kinds of mistreatment at their hands without ever wavering in their affections. The problem is, that at the level of the unconscious, the man is completely dependent on the love of the woman, however independent he appears to be at the conscious level. If she withdraws her love, which sustains him in ways he does not recognise or admit to, his security is lost. Out of fear at losing this unconditional love, which is of course coming to him from the Great Mother via the woman, he seeks to control her, while at the same time giving all sorts of reasons other than the true one for his actions. He is unaware of the true reason. Since unconditional love, by its very nature, can't be controlled, he is either unsuccessful, or what is more likely, he ends up receiving only conditional love from the woman, mixed in with a large dollop of fear and guilt. Because her nature is unlimited, the woman would love all men, and this is unacceptable to a patriarchal man, who does not want to share her. He truncates her nature through his jealousy, possessiveness and fear, and the result is that he does not get what he wants - unconditional love, but a severely limited version of it. The woman herself restricts her natural way of being because the man tells her it is correct, and yet she knows intuitively that something is wrong.
We see this phenomenon more widely in patriarchal society, where man wishes to completely control the Goddess in the form of Nature and the earth. Though he knows he is entirely supported by Nature, and can't exist without her, he still distorts that knowledge, and attempts to make her subservient to him. Because Nature has not so far resisted this control has blinded him to the fact that he is trying to make something far greater than him bow to his will. In his arrogance, he rapes and despoils the planet in the same way he rapes and controls women.
So far we have only discussed heterosexual fantasies, but homosexuals also show their level of development by what they dream about. Gay men often see the Great Mother so clearly in women, perhaps due to a dominating mother, that they are terrified. They do not see the unconditional love, because of their fears, and focus on the dark side of the Mother, whom they see as engulfing them. Other men seem much safer than this. They may also be fascinated by strong women at the same time, and have friendships with them in which there is no overt sexual element. There is an attraction/repulsion energy, which shows an internal problem with females, and men do not have to be practising homosexuals to exhibit it.
Nearly all men have a strong reaction to powerful women, even though there are so few examples in our society to point towards. Margaret Thatcher is an exception. She remained as leader of the Conservative Party for fifteen years and was Prime Minister for eleven. She survived politically despite various periods of unpopularity, and dramatically changed the image of women through this. Almost no-one was indifferent to her. She provoked loyalty, loathing and admiration, in equal measure. She is clearly a dominant woman, who enjoyed political power, and was adept at hanging on to it. Her behaviour reversed almost all the old stereotypes we have about women, which appals some people and delights others. Many like to imagine that the men in Cabinet grovelled before her, and reams have been written about why this was so, whether the men secretly enjoyed this, and what such actions do to harm democratic procedure. Also, much has been said about her apparent reluctance to include women in her Cabinet, and her habit of encouraging other women to return to their homes, to resume their old roles as wives and mothers. Did she dislike competition from other women, fearing they would not succumb to the same tactics as used on male politicians, or, as one author has suggested, did she actually see herself as a man, with the same attitude towards other women as a totally patriarchal male has?
To many observers, Margaret Thatcher was a traitor to her sex. Though she is female, they say, she has in fact worsened the lot of British women. Because she was the leader of the Conservative Party, which upholds the status quo within patriarchal society, she encouraged and advocated behaviour which has led to an even more uncaring and materialistic society. Other commentators focus on her leadership qualities of determination and toughness, and applaud her unwavering resoluteness in the face of opposition. She is seen as having put the 'Great' back into 'Great Britain,' especially after her actions during the Falklands War. The problem is that a woman has to play the patriarchal game to get any power in our patriarchal world.
[The authors disagreed over the role of Margaret Thatcher in writing this book, which was written while she was still Prime Minister. Bill hoped she would start a new trend of strong female leaders. Pamela disagreed and greatly disliked her, because she wasn’t a ‘sister’ as she passed anti-feminist laws. Also Pamela thought of her as just a ‘man in a frock’ because of her and ruthless and uncaring behaviour. Pamela’s fears have since proved correct because since Margaret Thatcher no-one in Britain seem to want another female leader, because they fear she will be like another Margaret Thatcher.]
The more that women gain control and power within patriarchal structures, the more those structures will deteriorate and die. It does not matter that it is only women who are still highly patriarchal who occupy these positions, and appear to uphold competition and conflict - it would be impossible for a truly matercentric woman, if in fact they exist at all, to be successful within politics or business today. It has already been noticed that when women begin to enter prestigious occupations, the status of that profession diminishes. In the U.S.A., where most doctors and surgeons are male, medicine is a highly regarded profession, with great financial rewards for some. In the U.S.S.R., most doctors are women, and the status of the profession is low. It is not only that an occupation with women in it has less status because women themselves are held in low regard by society; women, by their very nature, change the internal structures of the profession. Patriarchal men are able to behave in a way which allows them to acquire status, power and wealth without internal conflict. It is perfectly easy for them to care about no-one but themselves. They build job structures to reflect this. To begin with, when women enter such structures, they have to toe the line. They may in fact agree with the rules, and if they are suppressing unconditional love, be every bit as tough and competitive as men. However, if they have power, it is the power of the Goddess, and sooner or later, their fear will die away, enabling them to both care for others, and have some status and reward within society. Before this, it will have looked to them that it was an either/or situation - either they could love and nourish others, or they could have something for themselves. When they reach this realisation, the ethos and therefore the organisation of their profession begins to change, attracting more similarly minded women, and the rot sets in as far as patriarchal society is concerned. Once a profession begins to care about the welfare of people, both within and without it, and loses its ruthlessness, patriarchal men lose interest. They begin to choose other occupations, which still allow them to be selfish and competitive. Eventually, there will be no place to run for the patriarchal individual, but that time is a long way off.
If the image of a strong woman like Margaret Thatcher is disturbing to men, it is even more disturbing to women. Women in our society are not accustomed to the idea of being dominant, and if they are, they will often conceal the fact. Actresses who have impersonated Margaret Thatcher on stage or television, have reported feeling surprised at the amount of power they sense in themselves when assuming this persona. It is an unusual sensation for women in our society.
Patriarchal society, over the last few thousand years, has quite successfully undermined the self-esteem of women, and the number of strong, confident females is minimal. It is considered acceptable and indeed desirable, for a man to be assertive, but a woman is still largely expected to be 'nice' and compliant. This causes problems for women when faced with a real life example of a bossy woman like Margaret Thatcher. Some are likely to reject her completely because she does not fit the patriarchal image of women, who place children and husband before self. If they were to allow that she was right to seek political power, then it makes their life of sacrifice to a man's ambitions look like foolishness. Other women accept that it is o.k. to want power, but criticise the lack of compassion they see in Mrs Thatcher. They wish to see a woman who is clearly caring and co-operative in a position of authority. In this they are not wrong, but unrealistic about just how successful such a woman could be in the merciless jungle of present day politics. Another group of women are fiercely loyal and devoted to Margaret Thatcher, because they see her as a role model for the emergence of similar females. They endorse all of her patriarchal attitudes, and see the way forward in terms of women becoming like men .i.e. individualistic, competitive and tough. The last group of women also favour Mrs Thatcher, but in this case only because she is a woman. They are grateful that there is a strong woman around, and do not care what her politics are, even if they disagree with them. To this group of women, she is a ground breaker, and they are happy that she has had the courage to be herself and pursue her ambitions. It will not be clear for some time what effect she has had on society, but for these women, it can only be good. She paves the way for other women, and they applaud her for that.
Attitudes towards a woman who is turning onto the path of the Goddess, despite the way we've depicted it, is never simple. There is always a mixture of emotions, both negative and positive.
Pamela: Both my mother and my ex mother-in-law have shown me this ambivalence in equal measure, and confused me because of my own lack of certainty. When I was a full-time professional 'career woman,' my mother was both proud and approving. My mother in law was uneasy. She felt I should be bearing and raising children as she had done. She couldn't wait to be presented with grandchildren, and for me to become a 'proper' wife. When I finally had a child, however, they united. My priority was my daughter; therefore I should work only a little, if at all, they agreed. Since I was guilty about my desire to resume my career, I was in conflict, and resolved it badly by going into an emotional decline which was only reversed by taking a part-time job. It was the best I could do at the time. When I separated from my husband, both women again changed position. My mother saw it as common sense that if I was going to be a single mother, I should re-enter my profession as quickly as possible, before my skills became rusty and unacceptable. My mother-in-law demanded that I go back to work because otherwise her son would be burdened with substantial maintenance payments. For my part, the very thought of working in a tough profession when I was physically and emotionally bankrupt, was an impossibility. Eventually I had no choice, because my husband, backed up by a judge, paid such a tiny amount towards the maintenance of his child that I was forced to return to work. In the long run, this may have been the best course of action, however unfair it seemed at the time. I was made to become self- sufficient, which was painful and exhausting, yet from it I drew great strength, which only now do I realise came from the Great Mother.
It is difficult for a woman to realise the power she will have over men if she draws on the Great Mother. We are accustomed to the sexual 'pull' of a desirable woman, and the way this can be used to manipulate men, but we have not as yet thought of other ways in which power can be manifested or used. This is mainly because women have not dared to think what they might want if somehow their desires could be fulfilled. It will be interesting to see what form the wishes of women will take, once they realise that they can choose for themselves, rather than being told by men what it is they want or are.
One of the ways in which women's power will benefit society is by the proper use of men who are geniuses. We have spoken before of how the man's brain is designed. He can access his intellect or his intuition, but not both, unlike a woman, who is able to balance both sides of the brain and use them at the same time. When a man manifests genius, he uses his intuition, leaving his intellect out in the cold. This often causes instability, and sometimes madness, since the intellect is needed for everyday life in patriarchal society. All patriarchal men are also unstable, of course, even when they do not employ intuition. The exclusive use of the intellect, however, is such a fundamental bed-rock of society that they are classed as sane. Many male geniuses have died young, committed suicide, drunk themselves to death, or been incarcerated in institutions for the insane, because they could not cope with the flood of information coming from their right brain. Those who have survived, either switched back and forth between intellect and intuition, or relied on a strong and stable woman to take care of them. While women had no power within society, the insanity of both intuitive geniuses and intellectually orientated men went unchecked. When men made moves towards contacting the Goddess, unless they managed to fit a stereotype of creativity, they would be repressed. Young men who like to gamble or drive cars very fast, for example, are not necessarily being 'macho.' These activities are ones in which the intellect is of no use after a certain point, and intuition is important, yet they can still be included in the activities 'proper' to a full-blooded male. When women have more power in society, male geniuses will be able to tap into the Great Mother without fear, because they will always be looked after. At present, there is a huge reservoir of untapped potential in the human race, because the rigidity of our society prevents its development. This will not be the case in a matercentric society, in which men are voluntarily subservient to women, because there will be no fear of uncontrolled men wreaking havoc and destroying the fabric of society. Men will be free to use both intellect and intuition, knowing that neither they nor anyone else will come to any harm.
Another growing manifestation of the Goddess is the increasing number of male mediums. In patriarchal society, most mediums have been women, because it has been easier for women to contact their intuitive side and receive information from the Great Mother. There is no guarantee that the information will not be distorted by the medium of course, and many women have been guilty of this. Now that we are moving into a matercentric era, many men are becoming mediums. They are likely to be much better mediums than women, provided they are stabilised and allowed to feel safe by the control of a strong woman. The reason for their success is that they are able to go more deeply into the intuitive side of their brain without the information being censored by the intellect, as happens in women. The possibilities opened up for mankind by this direct contact with the Great Mother are tremendous. We will be able to travel far, far beyond the limited universe discovered by patriarchal society, into realms of timelessness undreamt of until now. Many science fiction writers have explored the possibilities of time travel, parallel universes and faster than light journeys, to name but a few ideas. These will seem ordinary in the light of new knowledge revealed by the deepening contact with the Great Mother. Our future is unlimited, and the only barrier to reaching it is our fear of the unknown, which causes us to live in a closed and tiny world.
The future will not only bring an exploration of our true potential, but an end to suffering and illness on earth. These two things are caused by control and conflict. If you impose your will on another person, and attempt to make him fit a pattern he has not chosen for himself, suffering and dis-ease is the result. The same occurs if you do this to yourself. Illness is not caused by viruses or malfunctioning bodies, but by disharmony. If this lack of harmony between desire and action is not resolved at the spiritual level, it moves to the emotional level, where we have nameless fears and desires. If nothing is healed at this stage, we move on to the mental level. Here we try to understand our fears and desires. But if we fail, or refuse to deal with our dis-ease, then we move on yet again, to the physical level. If it is still not resolved, physical disease and death is the result. In a sense, we allow our conflict to kill us; in a natural state, our bodies would be perfectly healthy. When conflict reaches the physical level, it is followed by symptoms of illness, which is a cry for help from the body. If we listen to its messages, and find time to address the problems which are indicated by illness, we recover. Even rest and relaxation helps here, since we take time off from all our worries in order to get better. If we do not do this, the symptoms will reoccur, until the point at which the body cannot hold any more disharmony. It then dies. Even death from old age has the same cause. The only difference is that we have accumulated pain and suffering slowly, over a lifetime, and the body is no longer able to hold it.
We have all heard of the concept of Freewill. This was a gift to us from the Great Mother, who created us, and was meant to allow us to create freely in a similar way. Instead of choosing to do what best fits our natures and desires, however, we have given away our freewill to others, or have taken over their wills by propaganda and force. We do what pleases others, or what the law, social expectations and our religious belief says we must do. As a result, we spend most of our lives in a strait-jacket. Even if we follow the form of right behaviour, in many cases, because the actions do not spring from our own freewill, they have no love in them. We are too afraid at the moment to do much about this. Those who control society fear that chaos and loss of power for themselves will result if we remove the strait-jacket. People will run amok, being nasty, brutish and selfish, and allow the carefully built up social structures to fall into ruin. Women in particular, with their unfathomable emotional natures, are seen as likely to cause trouble to the rulers, because one of their demands is for men to become more loving and emotionally responsive to them. Even those whose actions are already more loving, and who are trying desperately to save the planet and its life forms, are afraid of Freewill. In their case they are afraid that if they do what they want, they will hurt others. They cling firmly to duty and responsibility for the needs of others, fearing that they would become selfish and dictatorial if they removed the guilt they feel at having any desires at all.
The movement towards the Great Mother in society will force those who are not exercising freewill into doing so, and those who are imposing their will on others into stopping. This will not happen overnight, and there will be much anger, fear and possible violence as the balance is restored. The best that anyone who is evolving can do is to pray to the Great Mother for help, and accept that changes are necessary and inevitable. Those who are selfish must listen to and love others more; those who are unselfish must allow that they have a right to the fulfilment of their desires. Both groups will have tremendous emotional adjustments to make because of this, but the result will be harmony, happiness, and freedom from suffering of all kinds.
As we have said several times, men will come under the domination of women in a matercentric age. This is not the same kind of dominance that we find in patriarchal society, in which a few men impose their will on the majority of people. It is difficult to find a word which expresses clearly what we mean, because we are using language developed by men, who are interested in control and hierarchies. The sovereignty of women, to try another word, will be much like the influence of a loving mother over her son. The mother wishes the son to be happy. The son knows this and accepts both his mother's love and advice, out of an awareness that she is wiser than he. To do this, patriarchal man must go through many changes. From despising and using women, he must turn to revering and obeying her. This requires that he accept her guidance, and relinquish his ego, which is telling him that women are inferior to him, and that his only hope for happiness is to fight others for it. Women, in their turn, must learn that they are the representatives of the Great Mother, and accept their task of guiding men for everyone's happiness.
The changes already apparent in our society, as it moves onto the path of the Goddess, are incredible. As more souls leave the path of the god, there will be huge leaps in understanding and love. Society is only a reflection of the state of mind of the people within it, so changes will happen automatically. The Great Mother does not ask us to be anything more or less than our true selves, warts and all. As we realise this, we will stop trying to be perfect according to some image we have of what she requires.
It seemed to us on the path of the god that we needed to struggle to survive. Independence and individuality had to be fought for. Now, for increasing numbers of people, this has been achieved, and their way forward is into acceptance and harmony. Those on the path of the Goddess will have to show understanding towards those still on the path of the god; it will be part of their learning process to allow them to continue with their suffering, if that is what they choose. This does not mean a kind of hard- hearted shrugging off of the pain of others. If we are in touch with the Great Mother, we can't help but love others and feel their pain. What it means is that we extend ourselves to assist others, if we wish, but without all the patriarchal trimmings, such as feelings of superiority, self-denial in their favour, and coercion of people 'for their own good.' We must respect the choices of other people, yet be ready to help when help is genuinely asked for. It will be difficult to do this, especially for women, who readily empathise with others, and wish to 'make it all better.' This might not be the right thing to do for a particular person's growth. We must realise that, while on the path of the god, it is impossible for an individual to learn except through suffering. This gives them the necessary growth to realise eventually that suffering is not required. Until they reach that point, any interference will slow their development. Compassion requires us not to intervene when our help, however well-meaning, is resisted.
Pamela: To give you a concrete example of what we mean, I will draw on my experiences with women in Refuges, who are in flight from brutal husbands. Those who work in such places will readily tell you that a woman who has been repeatedly abused by a man, sometimes over thirty or forty years, does not change overnight. It might seem sensible to us that she should leave such a man. She may agree with us whole-heartedly, on an intellectual level, then return to him for another beating almost as soon as we have all decided that the situation is intolerable. It does no good whatsoever to force the woman to change her behaviour. Only when she has genuinely had enough of suffering at the hands of a man will she begin to listen properly to the advice given to her. Even then it may take years to build up enough self- confidence to leave him, or to eradicate the ingrained habits of expecting or indeed welcoming violence from men. To be judgemental about women in this situation does not assist them, nor does it say much for the level of development of the one doing the judging. We all have areas in which we are still patriarchal, and only pain seems to work in bringing us to the point of scrutinising them. Just as physical pain makes you aware that a part of the body is requiring attention, so emotional or mental pain directs us to distress in the emotional and physical bodies. Once we have learned that we can grow through joy, we abandon pain as a teacher, but until that stage is reached, we crucify ourselves.
It is not only patriarchal people who must be allowed to live how they choose; so must those on the path of the Goddess. Already, groups of like-minded people are forming communities which reflect ideas about living that do not fit in with patriarchal society. Some of these will undoubtedly fail, but it will be a learning experience for those involved, if they are at all willing to grow. What we need is a sort of truce between matercentric and patriarchal groups, which says, 'I'll live my way, you live yours.' It may be that there will be patriarchal and matercentric countries in the future. Perhaps that is also what happened in the past, when the changeover went the other way. We don't really know, since records have been lost or destroyed - if they ever existed. However, there is still a whisper left that there were matercentric societies in the past, and we shall discuss this in the next chapter.