Myth and Human Consciousness

My class in The Evolution of The Great Goddess could be called ‘Feminism and Evolution’ or ‘The Evolution of Consciousness in Symbol, or simply, ‘How the Fuck Did This Happen?’

Myth describes the psyche of a people. Symbols are an alphabet of the metaphysical. Rituals are compressed stories. The eternal-return is an ancient pattern, and symbols of the spiral, the labyrinth, & the meander, were sacred ways to approach invisible dimensions.

We are moved by archetypal patterns and representations, across time and space, into a deep memory-tracing, to articulate spontaneously recurrent images. The characteristics are constant—they point to an essential resonance in the hearts and minds of all people.

The Sacred Dimension—When studying Myth and the Great Goddess, first we need to understand Joseph Campbell’s insistence that the sacred dimension of human consciousness is not a stage that we passed through in our early tribal evolution, but an elemental part of our deepest psyches. The great mythic theorist, Carl Jung agrees. “The Sacred is embedded in the structure of human consciousness.” Sacred images of The Goddess go back, far into our past, to a time when humans saw themselves as children of nature, as part of the whole, and living on a sacred Earth, in relation to all things.

Images of giving birth, being nourished, and receiving the dead back to her womb for rebirth occur 20,000 years ago in the Paleolithic, 10,000 years later in the Neolithic, 5,000 years after in the Bronze Age, and today through Mary and a rebirth of the Goddess/Pagan spirituality. The continuous eternal wisdom cycle of coming from nothing and returning to nothing have always been represented by women, the moon, and the snake. All these were seen as miraculous and inter-connected transformations. Even in Catholicism we see the icon of the great mother who stands on the horned moon, stars haloing her, and awaits the rebirth of the world.

Lunar Religion
In the Paleolithic, the cave symbolized the womb, the most sacred place where Life brought forth babies and took back the dead. Looking out from their cave homes, Paleolithic people watched the moon’s journey, night after night. Abstract thinking can first be seen in humans’ understanding of the moon’s phases. The dark of the moon was (and is) the 4th dimension—implied, but invisible to our eyes—where new life is gestated, and from which the old moon is reborn as the new. Our awareness of moon cycles is the start of humanity’s imagining of sequence, patterns and time. Seasonal recurrence comes from lunar recurrence, and through intimate observations of the moon, humans learned to recognize analogies between different dimensions of life.

Our assumptions about human nature are crucial to our behaviors, beliefs, desires, motivations, actions—if we believe humans are essentially dominating and aggressive, then we will be. But we weren’t. Not for a long, long time. We need to know, not only what humans were, but also what we can become.  Our history IS our future.

The Story Making Animal—
Rituals tell stories, myths are analogies—still in modern language we hear a constant repitition of the annoying phrase,“It’s like..”. It seems that our current habitual pattern of speech is our unconscious, but essential attempt to communicate in symbolic, mythic terms. This is like that. It’s the oldest story in any book. Telling compressed stories in rituals re-connected us with animals and plants, re-enacting the bonds that were broken when consciousness caused the human psyche to separate from the whole, the unity, the dance of Life.

We can see these as stories told by humanity at different stages of its evolution, which explore different ways of being in the world. In the modern world, we call “Myth” other people’s religions. Today, most of our culture only knows this male god, and only presents this duality— life/death, dark/light, good/evil. The original unity is gone, lost to patriarchal consciousness. Lost through endless war, through trauma, through domination, and deliberate acts of erasure and burial by conquerors, we were forced to forget, and move on into a brutal separation from the truth of what we are, and perhaps, what we are for.

The images and stories of the Bible, the Koran, Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism all come from Egypt and Sumeria, as do the myths of the Greeks and Romans. Sumeria was only excavated 150 years ago. Here, the area around Basra, where Iraq and Iran meet, was the genesis of this civilization. The story of Sumeria’s transition from peaceful co-existence to rivalry and war recounts historical chronicles of terror. The warrior, Hammurabi led the Babylonians to conquer the peaceful Sumerians. The conquerors kept the language and myths of Sumer and transmitted them through Turkey and Canaan in the next 2,000 years. The loveliest parts of the Old Testament are full of the beautiful Sumerian images and language of the Goddess worshippers—Inanna, Isis, and Astoreth—but the goddess is nowhere to be found.

Later stories demonstrate the historical inversion of the Goddess, from the Mother of Everything, to a wife or daughter, to virgin or whore, to gone-from-the records entirely. This inversion indicates what is perhaps the most significant event of the time, which affects us still, so deeply—human consciousness moving from participation in the cosmos to precise observation of the skies. From being just one part of the universe to a deliberate separation as spectators and dominators. This shift leads to humans honoring transcendence over immanence—what is not physically here—the new sky gods reflecting some heavenly order. And the long-ago priests’ translations, biased in their misogyist interpretations and lust for ultimate power, eventually led us to science and technology, and the violent exploitation of both nature and women.

Unity Consciousness—Our thinking is stuck in the either/or of polarities now. Once it was a UNITY. And psychologists have discovered that this polarizing is evidence of a lower or less developed stage of cognitive and emotional evolution.

There is a heightened complexity in Holistic thinking when compared to Dualistic thinking. In our original situation of holism, we find Unity over separation, sharing over zero-sum winner-takes-all conclusions, pleasure over fear, connection over abstraction, participation over the consumer spectacle, belonging over alienation.  These later thought forms became our modern values, but they originated from centuries, millennia, of terror and of war.

Today, the conqueror has replaced the nurturer. The power to give and grow was at the center of nomadic life—the shared bond between mother and child. In her book, “The Chalice and the Blade”, Rhiane Eisler speaks of the Partnership Model vs. the Dominator Model.  Qualities of caring, compassion, and sharing were what marked matrifocal cultures. Women did NOT dominate men; these were societies in which difference was not equated with inferior or superior. Difference WAS but it was NOT ranked. Not until patrairchy, who’s entire foundation is the ranking of difference, and violence against that difference.

All the modern movements for social justice can be seen as one part of an underlying yearning and action for the transformation of our culture from dominator to partnership. All over the western world, waves of invaders smashed the gentle Goddess cultures and buried them under layers of hierarchies. This led to the last several thousand years of elite human males transforming symbols, and re-writing myths.

Man”—said man—“hads always been the natural creator of the earth.” in 800 BC, the Greeks announced, “History will now begin”, and destroyed 25,000 years of matri-focal history. The rise of militarism led to all these patriarchal societies of warrior cults creating massive death and patriarchal social systems. But it’s imperative to know that these vast changes to our psyches all stemmed from cultural, political, and economic choices made at the time.              

For 25,000 years at least, our ancestors found power in unity and cooperation, some of the feminine attributes patriarchy now despises. As a result of this split, we modern humans have inherited two opposing cultures—warlike, aggressive, mobile, male and agricultural, sedentary, egalitarian and peaceful. We can see by looking at modern history how white men in charge still treat indigenous, tribal people, who are the ones that still manage to support a lifestyle that is, on balance, more egalitarian, peaceful, and female.

Bios and Zoe—The notion of Immanence means The Goddess moves from within, humans feel safe, connected to nature’s cycles, and immortal in the vision of continual renewal clasped within the eternal image of the whole.
The opposing notion of Transcendence means a male God who moves from above. He is not here on earth, instead he is watching all from the sky. Humans begin to feel afraid and judged—death becomes final and life becomes tragic.

The Goddess Mother is ZOE — the eternal source, represented by images of immortality, the moon’s cycles, the thread, and the myth of the Goddess. She represents wholeness, continual renewal—the eternal-return—found in lunar cycles, unity consciousness, and  the instinct for relationship and co-creation. The Goddess moves from within—we say She is immanent.

The son/lover of the Goddess is BIOS — he represents just one part of experience—the daily life in time, one phase of the moon, one bead on the thread. He is the myth of the hunter, and later the warrior. Through him, duality is normalized. He represents individuality, war, defense and domination. Like him, his Patriarchal Sky God moves from above—we say he is transcendent.

We find an opposition between the original Lunar Myths and newer Solar Myths. The myth of the goddess can contain the myth of the hunter or warrior. But the myth of the hunter/warrior cannot contain the myth of the goddess. This is because the upstart myth isn’t large enough, because Bios is just one part of the great story of human consciousness, which is continually rupturing the unity so we can live the daily, mortal world of time. Solar myths revere the light and condemn the darkness while lunar myths accept both sides of our experience.     

The union of Zoe and Bios—the two dimensions of life—regenerates the earth and balances the giving of life with the taking. The essential distinction between the whole and the part, the thread and the bead, the cycles of the moon and her totality, coexist in this mythic union, and were brought together in agricultural rituals, fairie tales,  in The Sacred Marriage of the Goddess and the King, and echoed in our current ceremony of marriage.

Sacrifice—Representing the ritual sacrifice of the god or later, the king, this mythic practice is found everywhere. The king, or a victim who represents the god, dies—a sacrifice of the one for the many. He represents the life energy that was both divine and human. His death insures that the forces of decay will be arrested, and life will be renewed for the whole community. Festivals such as those celebrating The Green Man, Burning Man, and the symbolism of New Years’ Eve, are examples of this in our modern world, as is Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery. The killing of the god is also seen as a step to his revival in a better form, taking us all with him to redemption—Ramadan, Easter, Passover, and the host in Catholicism are also ceremonies of this rebirth.  

Eventually, animals, mostly lambs and goats in the ancient world, began to replace humans in ritual sacrifice. Later we find that concept embodied in the form of “the scape-goat”—Jews in Nazi Germany, immigrants, gays, and people of color in the modern world. The custom of expelling sins from the community in the form of individual people became combined with that of the god’s sacrifice—since he had to die anyway, he may as well take the sins with him. War, capital punishment, witch hunts, all these justify this sacrifical practice of murder. This was new in patriarchal religions. When the Goddess brought death in her crone aspect, all was resolved with Her.

In the Bronze Age, the older agricultural rites of earth fertility were still practiced, and the king personified the life of the community— (Bios/time/mortality), and the life of vegetation (Zoe, divine/immortal). Slowly, people began to live in a state of mythic identification with the king, instead of the Goddess, and the surrogate sacrifice was an ominous extension of the Neolithic idea of a necessary renewal of the world order.

Rituals of sacrifice tried to heal or appease the unity to magically restore what was lost/taken—for example: animals die because of our need for their lives as our food. First, in the early myths, the mother lost her son or daughter to the underworld, (which symbolized the dark of the moon’s journey). But, in the finality of the sky gods’ vision, when the object of fear became the non-specific IDEA of death as an abstraction—that moment of our material undoing. In this, the original signal of loss was distorted, confusing individual death with Death itself. War and conquest serve the purpose of securing a surrogate sacrifice in place of oneself or ones’ group. Murder of “the enemy” became a new sacrifical method to magically avoid the concept of death,a terrible projection born of this inchoate fear.

The myth of the Goddess expressed the moral vision of humanity until the Bronze Age (2,000BC) when the part broke away from the whole, and the goddess became relegated to the unconscious psyche. We still see her though, still, arising in rituals, archetypes, symbols, myths and fairy tales.

In the experience of Mythic Inflation, the part forgets it’s only a PART and appropriates to itself the ordering of life. Bios confuses itself with Zoe. This is what is happening in our modern world. Mythic Inflation is a symptom of the radical disorder of the psyche in which the tribe claims for itself the powers of deity. “God bless America” was everywhere on bumperstickers after 9/11. Every American president in modern history has ended every speech with that phrase. It is an unconscious defense against fear. If we look outside for the image of the whole that reunites the parts, the wound remains unconscious and projected onto external images. Instead, we must look for and find it within our sacred selves in that the sacred dimension of human consciousness.

Immanence and TranscendenceHumanity’s awareness of itself as a mere spectator to the show of Life, or the belief that we’re separate from nature, ruptures the wholeness of the divine order and splits consciousness into Self and Other—subject and object, a perceiver and a perceived.

The image of the unity that was The Goddess did not survive the bitter experiences of fear and the PTSD that has followed us for 4,000 years, and ultimately a radical transformation of human consciousness took place. Life and death and rebirth became split into life (hope and joy) and death (terror and despair). The holy goddess-ruled waters beneath the earth shrank to a barren underworld of darkness. The experience of totality became an experience of opposition. What was inextricably entwined became a fundamental rupture.

A new image appears in The Bronze Age—The Goddess of War. She drinks the blood of her victims who were formerly her children. She becomes a servant of the king’s will to power, and to the act of war itself. A symbol of the glory of war. This is a clear example of myth serving political and economic purposes, as it changes the very experiences and culture. Fortresses and the security state emerge at this time. The need to achieve immortality while living becomes urgent, because death was so vivid. Fear was amped-up to the breaking poing for people’s psyches. The hero was one response to the finality of death-without-redemption.

The Hero represents the triumph of light (good) over darkness (bad), according to the dualities of patriarchy. He is the solar myth that imitated the sun’s conquest of the night, who’s target was the same dimension of the old order of the lunar goddess. The focus shifted from the goddess to her son, from Zoe to Bios, from the cosmos to humanity. In that light, we can see Jesus as a two thousand year old hero of our culture. He “takes away our sins with his own sacrifice”. As do Batman, Spiderman, Superman, James Bond. While they may not die per se, they are shown battling forces of evil and suffering to save us all. It’s all weapons and machinery for these dudes, not a moon or a tree in sight.

In the new myth, the hero stands alone, supported by his invisible father in heaven, against all opposing forces. This is so different from the old myth of the goddess and her son/lover, where the drama was one of ever-shifting and ever-returning cycles/phases of relationship, based on our original, primary experience of the moon and the seasonal recurrences which goverened early human’s lives.

The Seen and the Unseen—Another duality that becomes apparent when we study the evolution of the human psyche, is between the seen and the unseen. Manifest and un-manifest. What is apparent with our human senses, and what is beyond. Earliest religious images show pregnancybirth and nurturing as the numinous, magical state. There is no trace of a father figure in any of the Paleolithic. If the magical mystery of creation is the origin of religion, it’s to the woman that we must look for the phenomenon of unseen power. Menstruation. Birth. Nursing. These are all magical acts. Pre-historic humans lived in a culture organized around women and children.

Our assumptions about human nature and our place in the world are crucial to our behaviors and desires and motivations. Assumptions rule our lives, consciously and unconsciously. We base our experiences on them. If we believe that humans are essentially aggressive and warlike, then we will act that way. We will glorify that aspect. But we weren’t always like that, and we were egalitarian and peaceful for a long, long time. It’s just that this history was totally expunged from the fabric of our consciousness. And it’s not as if we can go backwards. Evolution only moves forwards, but knowing what humans were shows us what we can become.

Our history connects us to our future. This class is about remembering who we are. It wasn’t until the monotheistic sky gods conquered the goddess, perhaps 4,000 years ago,  that we fell into the boiling cauldron of time that is war without end. For all this human time, the life giving, ever-regenerating female deity, and Nature herself, have been excluded from our world view.

All religion is about the mystery of creation. What is unseen, but fertile with possibility. The central theme of the Goddess symbolism is the mystery of birth and death, and the renewal of all the life of the cosmos. (Where did we come from? Where do we go?)  All religion strives to recieve answers to these existential questions. For example, one of this cultures’ main religions— Christianity—centers itself around the mythical death of the hero, Jesus. But in the 30,000 years of the before-times, the Goddess was the single source of all life in cyclical—not linear—mythical time.

So much about our pre-history is unseen. We have very little surviving physical evidence, or written stories of this time. All that we have as evidence of our once- peaceful lives is art and archetecture to ground us in these humans’ beliefs. But, Goddess-centered art, with its striking absence, for 30,000 years, of warrior images and symbols of male domination, reflects a social order of women being equal and venerated, and culture being matrilineal. We’ve found no fortifications around dwellings that would indicate war. No weapons or mass graves. 

The original transformational mystery is primordial birth, which men can only imitate. The machine is man’s transformation ritual—his magical uterus of mass production. Men’s original rituals were imitations of the female mysteries of menstruation and childbirth. World-wide, priests and shamans must always dress as women to take on women’s original magic. Still, Catholic priests wear skirts, and men sanctify bloodshed through violence or sacrifical rituals to imitate the unachievable power of women.

Under patriarchy, there are so many taboos against women who are menstruating. It’s said that women on their periods are “unclean”. In many tribes, Native American women are fobidden into the sweat lodge when they’re menstruating. In the Hindu religion, bleeding women are forbidden to enter the temple. Orthodox Jewish law insists that women bleeding are unclean, and must not be touched by a man. In many religions, women bleeding must be secluded—(in the Red Tent)— They must not cook or eat food with others. Consider how still today, we avoid men’s discomfort with bloody pads or even the mention of our periods. My mother believed that women bleeding shouldn’t ever touch a houseplant, or it would die. But, the real reasons for these prohibitions is not hygeine, but that she is a living Goddess at that time. Not impure, not unholy, but aligned with the moon’s cycles, and her own power. The jealous and paranoid priests decreed this separation to punish and supress women’s great power, and to further support the superiority of men.

The genesis of our Western heritage is a religion in veneration of all living things. The universe as the living body of a Mother-Goddess-Creator of an earth that is alive and returns life, continually. The pictorial script of that primordial attempt to understand and live in harmony with creation describes, in archetypal symbols, is nothing less than a philosophy of human life that’s in every aspect contrary to the manipulated symbols that conquered and that still prevail within us. The discovery of an age of peace and harmony preceded this nightmare from which it is now certainly time for us to awake.

The Meta-Language of Myth— The evolution we’re studying is not just about a gender change in god, but a paradigm shift in the nature of all our values, all our drives under a world-wide patriarchy. We can see the mythic stories told by humanity at different stages of our evolution, which explore different ways of being in the world, but our present culture only knows the male part, the god part, and only presents duality. The original unity is gone, lost to patriarchal consciousness.

Archeologist, Maria Gimbutas, discovered a meta-language that reveals the basic world view of a pre-literate people. The goddess religion crosses the boundaries of time and space—throughout the disparate cultures of the Near East, the Mediterranean, central, northern and western Europe, and India—and is a cohesive and persistent ideological system that far outlasted anything else. Its powerful images have been superimposed onto Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Hindu, and Christian myths, leaving an indelible imprint on the human psyche.

The Great Goddess is not just a mother, she is much more. She is a life and death wielder, a regeneratrix, as well as a creatrix. What’s striking in the study of Her images is not the metamorphosis of the symbols, but the continuity from the Paleolithic on. The killer aspect of the goddess—‘The Terrible Mother’, emerges into our consciousness because she controls the life cycle. She’s not punishing, merely doing her cosmic duty. Not terrible any more than vultures are terrible—with Her, regeneration starts at the moment of death.

Renowned archeologist, William Irvin Thompson, has written—“Because we have separated humanity from nature, subject from object, values from analysis, knowledge from myth, and universities from the universe, it is enormously difficult for anyone but a poet or a mystic to understand what is going on in the holistic and mythopoeic thought of Ice Age humans. The very language we use to discuss the past speaks of tools, hunters, and MEN, when every statue and painting we discover cries out to us that these people had a culture of art, the love of animals, and WOMEN.….gathering is as important as hunting, but only hunting is discussed. Storytelling is discussed, but the storyteller is a hunter rather than an old priestess of the moon. Initiation is imagined, but the initiate is not the young girl in menarche, about to wed the moon, but a young man about to become a great hunter” 

This, despite the fact that, among all contemporary and historic hunter-gatherer tribes, 75-85% of the food comes from women’s food gathering activities. This despite the known fact that the oldest tools ever found are women’s digging sticks. This despite the fact that women were the first potters, weavers, hide tanners, textile dyers, the first to gather and study medicinal plants. The first doctors, the first astronomers, the first to teach humans how to count and measure. Mothers raising children created language. The first calendars were women’s lunar markings, and the only God-image ever painted on rock, sculpted in clay, or carved in stone from the Paleolithic to the Mid Neolithic—30,000 years—was the image of the human female. The symbols of this religion still resonate in modern religions. The first god was female. Nothing could be more relevant at this stage of our evolution than remembering this.

In the meta-language of myth, extremely complex ideas were expressed through the symbols of the moon, labyrinths, spirals, snakes, & meanders. The Goddess/the Unity has moved into the unconscious psyche of modern people, but her images live on—the cave, the moon, the spiral, wild animals, wilderness, and the journey of the soul through other dimensions are all connected to that original religion. Animals and plants were once seen as sacred beings, relations in the circle of life. They embodied divine powers and diverse expressions of the goddess. Today, the ecstatic reunion of human and animal nature comes to us in dreams, trance, ritual dances, hallucinogenic journeys, and these are interpreted as dangerous, or as madness by the dominant culture.

For instance, the symbol of the snake embodies the energy of ancestors, as they regularly slough off their skin and are renewed. They also move between the underworld (darkness) and the above-world (light), which is seen as potent magic, and they hibernate in the earth and awaken in springtime. The snake incarnates life energy. The snake is a great symbol for immortality, one link between the living and the dead. In our world, we’re taught to hate and fear snakes—we jump back when we see one. We’re told this is an evolutionary remnant, or becasue some snakes carry poison. But, Patriarchy made snakes the enemy of humanity because of their close association with the Goddess. The animism of primitive people is seen as childish or barbaric by modern machine-age patriarchy, or evi by orthodox religions. In fact, this animism is a profound, experiential perception of the evolutionary relation between all life-forms as manifestations of the original One.  

Thousands of stone and bone pieces, marked with long and complex sequences of engravings recording lunar calendars, have been excavated. Lunar calendar sticks marking the lunar year and noting the times of rituals date from 50,000 BC, and these images are the source of the magician’s wand. The owner of this wand is not the mighty hunter, but the midwife. It was her job to know exactly when babies were due to be born. Human life begins with birth and human culture and intelligence do too.

Women were the first observers of the basic rhythms of nature, upon which all later scientific observations were made. Women could predict the seasons of the year, the phases of the moon, the annual migrations of animals, birds, and fish. The word, Matter means Mother. “Mathematics” comes from the root word “mother wisdom”. Women taught men to measure, because they had to estimate how much stored food would feed how many people through the lean months of the year, as they were responsible for the next generation, and also for the gathering of 80% of that food.

The process of seasonal awakening—growing, fattening, and dying, were seen as connecting humans with plants and animals. Fertility was not sexuality, it was multiplication, growing, flourishing. With the image of the goddess, the division of old and young, mother and daughter was symbolic of seasonal rising and dying.

Goddess Returning—How might our lives have been different if we knew ourselves completely, no part left out, disgraced, or forgotten? How might our lives have been different if there was a holy place for women? There once was, with no distinction between the Primordial Goddess, the Earth, and the Earth’s daughters—Women. When the human race, awed by this nameless force, watched plants grow from the body of the earth and life spring from the body of women, it/we could only venerate this magical power possessed by the feminine body and spirit.

The mission handed down from a male deity to the forefathers of history was a Command to Control. A compulsion. A coersion. A bombing mission, a phallic outward thrusting explosion from one source. The history of this world today is weighted down with this burden of violence, this ranking hierarchy, this separation into oppositions, separate and at war with Nature and with Others. The message of women’s culture is a mutual sending, not a mission, but a process of Cosmosis. The cosmos is where power, justice, and love meet.

The technology of the blade is going to ruin us. Technology gives us destructive, gigantic brawn and mastery over Nature, who is so often despised by patriarchal religions. (When the earth is destroyed, The Lord, God will return. This destruction of nature is longed for, death is longed for in this life-hating, woman-hating religion.) We’ve brought the technology of killing further than any animal or any human culture. We need to move on from rape to reciprocity and an ever more conscious participation in the community of being. The earth is with us, not for us. Life does not begin or end— life is always here. Life does not emerge from us—we emerge from life.

The rebirth in our time of a Goddess spirituality reminds us of the integrity of bleeding without injury, and of our own blood’s relationship to the moon and the sea tides. Remember our own majesty as newborn, as little girl, young woman, leader, lady of the beasts and plants, spirit bearer, life giver, protectress, priestess, magician, dancer, athlete, musician, politician, elder, visionary poet, pathfinder, teacher, healer, explorer, adventuress, sister, friend, daughter, lover, huntress, ritual maker, death wielder, crone, goddess, the oldest of the old.

“The goddess is first of all Earth. The dark, nurturing mother who brings forth all life. She is the power of fertility and generation, the womb and also the receptive tomb, the power of death. All proceeds from her, all returns to her. As Earth, she is plants, trees, the grains and herbs that sustain life. She is the body, and the body is Sacred. She is the egg and the seed of the world. She is the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mystery of the dark waters. She is the soul of Nature that gives life to the universe. She is Queen of the Night, guide to the lost traveler, and pathway to the underworld.” (Starhawk)

A return to the goddess is not focused on transcendence, on leaving the ground behind for the sky, but on the embodiment of the sacred, here on earth, in Life and in relationships. This is a return to the unification of striving into being, a movement back into accord with the Dance.

“We say the time of waiting is over. We say the silence has been broken. We say there can be no forgetting now. We say, listen…”. (Susan Griffin)

“We need a god who bleeds now, not wounded, but who bleeds to life. A god who’s wounds are not the end of anything.” (Ntozake Shange)

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The  Evolution of
the Goddess Myth
and the Human Psyche

These teachings are from one of the most fascinating books ever written about the evolution of human consciousness as traced through the millenial shifts and shudders found in the images of The Great Goddess. The Myth of the Goddess—Evolution of An Image, by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford is this mind-blowing, meticulously researched book. It is the text I used for years to teach my Goddess classes. Much of this lecture emerged out of quotes from this amazing book. Read it if you can. It will change your life profoundly.

It’s important to know that when scholars speak of “prehistoric” or “pre-history, they’re referring to a time before written history. Symbolically, there are many levels, or maps of meaning, that show how human consciousness evolved, from pre-history to the present. One such map is the evolution of the images of the Great Goddess through human history.

So much of her original form and her story has been deliberated exiled, lost to time, destroyed by patriarchy, and yet, The Great Goddess lies within and behind all modern images of deity, in every single world religion and culture. If we study Her images and stories, She can be glimpsed beneath the surface of all the world’s myths, informing, complicating, and disrupting them. These archetypal images are patterns that continually turn up, across time and space. From the long reach of mythological and historical perspective, we can interrogate the essence of the Goddess archetype to learn about our journey, and how we arrived here, in our modern world, with our modern oppositional beliefs about creation, and ourselves.

The Goddess represents the flow of inexhaustible enfoldment. She is the primal unity, the balance of all duality. We can see this message of holism in Her images—She holds all oppositions when she holds 2 snakes, or is seen representing the moon’s phases. She reconciles and contains all opposites, even as She herself is beyond opposition. She is Time supported by eternity, and eternity clothed in time. In the ancient, unaltered Goddess, we see that She contains the two poles of dualism, and so prevents them from falling apart into the kind of opposition that our modern consciousness assumes is inevitable. Human and divine. Life and death. Time and eternity. Male and Female. Unity and multiplicity. Creation and Chaos. She holds them all in the palm of her hand. The Great Goddess was, for the human psyche, The nascent experience of Unity.

Myths serve as guides to the human species. Our cultural inheritance is the mythological conditioning we live under, which is a result of our existential concerns. This inheritance fills us with assumptions that are invisible to our minds. This means that our cultural legacy of Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs are a birthright not likely to be conscious, and so, these are the most difficult for us to be able to challenge directly. And so for instance, if we grant a soul to humanity, we many not grant a soul, or even consciousness, to Nature.

Separation from nature, in the ancient world of Sumeria and Egypt, is represented by the separation of heaven and earth.  This is an image of the birth of consciousness in which humanity is set apart from nature. The self who perceives and values is separated from that which is perceived and evaluated. Later creation myths will narrate the division of the primal unity into two halves. This portrayal of the human capacity to act reflectively rather than instinctively, inevitably and unfortunately involves a dissociation from the instinctive life of Nature. This bifurcation of our consciousness finds expression in the god who orders from beyond rather than the goddess who moves from within. The goddess becomes lower and the god higher in the hierarchy invented by patriarchy. This hierarchy assumes that consciousness can evolve only through distinguishing between what is wanted and what is not wanted, striving to reach the one and avoid the other.

Another aspect of our eventual separation from nature is the emergence of the individual from the tribal group. This was a new story, a coming-of-age myth, which emerged directly out of a cessation in our instincts to act collectively, that is, a new response for a member of a typical tribe. This separation gives rise to the myth of the hero, which eventually shifts the focus of attention from the great round of nature, expressed in the myth of the goddess, to our world as the center of the universe, and man as the center of the world. It’s a cyclical case of an original myth changing, and then enacting a change in our behavior, which then affects the continuity of the myth, and supports a further reactive change in the world. 

Ancient History—The mythology of the Sumerian gods and goddesses reflects the uneasy fusion of at least 4 different cultures—the original Goddess worshippers, the Sumerians, the Semites, and the Indo European invaders. The gods of the conquerors were super-imposed on an equally strong and much older Goddess tradition. The goddess culture of the artists and visionary poets of Sumeria was saved—(though made invisible)—through incorporation into the Old Testament, and elements of both cultures were integrated in a cosmology and a philosophy that were grounded in the images of unity that belonged to the older one.

Since the male father god could not take the dead back into himself, nor return them to the earth for rebirth as The Great Goddess could in her myth, time for humanity became linear. Birth was the beginning and death the end. Similarly, raised to cosmic proportions, creation itself had an absolute beginning and would have a absolute end. This new story would coincide with the final triumph of light over dark, meshing with later humans’ surety of their myth telling of the original victory that had brought the universe into being.

The Hebrews in Babylon captivity absorbed these ideas. History was seen as  linear, unfolding-in-time with the command and intention of the masculine god, who was necessarily outside or beyond time and creation. These ideas were in strong contrast to the immense aeonic cycles conceived by the Goddess cultures, but they were the inevitable corollary to the new idea that human life had a beginning and an end, and that death did not ultimately lead around again to rebirth. 

Later, the struggle between the hero and the serpent dragon represented the force of patriarchy fighting against the ancient deities of matriarchy. It also represented the power of human consciousness to gain mastery over instinctual and unconscious patterns of behavior that endlessly repeated the beliefs of the past. It symbolizes the need for individuals to separate from these collective responses by challenging the tribal values with their own vision. When the hero myth is perceived in terms of the growth of consciousness, it becomes an inner quest for illumination. Here the conflict is not so much between good and evil, but between a greater or a lesser understanding. The dragon represents ignorance, or unconsciousness. It is the chaos of we cannot control. The hero aims to master his own inner darkness. He is perceived as the embodiment of the archetypal masculine in all human beings, the questing consciousness in search of a goal.

Sometimes the hero looks for treasure, or for his home, but must overcome his challenge with dragon, the guardian of the threshold. These treasures cannot be reached by the hero’s rational mind, which divides everything into opposites, but, only with the help of the deeper instinctual levels of the psyche. These deeper levels require the Goddess’s help. For example, Athena helps Hercules; Hera assists the heroes of the Trojan War. These characteristics of deeper levels of the intuitive psyche are characteristically personified as female, so that feeling and intuition have to be encountered at once. In our modern world, we’re taught to denegrate both feeling and intuition as women’s qualities. And still, women are encouraged to be always there to “save” men, to be ever-emotionally-available to men, and to support powerful men of action with their female powers of emotion.

People were no longer encouraged by their guiding myths to feel themselves as children of the Mother, but as the creations of the Father. Nature is no longer experienced as source, but as adversary, and darkness is no longer a mode of divine being, but a mode of being devoid of divinity and actively hostile, devouring light, clarity and order. Where the image of the feminine is dramatized only as evil, as in Yahweh’s myth, the transforming power of the wisdom stored in the ancient experience of the psyche—deep territory of the mother—is unavailable, and the son-hero is left without guidance or inspiration. Only his fragile rationality remains to confront the terrifying image of his punishing father, who demands to be obeyed. The natural response to this image is fear, which obstructs understanding and change.

The archetypal feminine—the timeless and androgynous Goddess—was both female and male in the metaphorical sense that she was both the womb and the generative life force that seeded new forms of life within it, which she brought forth as the universe. Also, the Goddess wasn’t  perceived by pre-patriarchal people to be partial to one sex, as She had both sons and daughters.

In the Iron Age, the ideal of the king was no longer to be the shepherd of his people, as it was in early Sumeria, but the image of the mighty conqueror. Mythic figures that represent this model are Zeus, Hammurabi, Agamemnon, and Alexander. In the Iron Age, cruelty became a virtue and barbarism a way of life. War was regarded as natural and right. Like the Paleolithic hunt, war brought men together in a shared aim and heroic purpose whose intensity no tilling the soil or herding of animals could emulate. Conquest preempted art. Brutalized people create brutal gods and goddesses; brutal gods and goddesses in turn endorse the brutality of men. The creation of beautiful art ceased with the Iron Age, and all we see everywhere are images of war and slaughter.

In the Iron Age, the terms feminine and masculine became absolutes, and were assigned with definitive values. These simplistic assignations that originated 4,000 years ago overlook all symbolic significance, all the subtle ways we were informed by the divine feminine to trust, share, and be but a part of the unity of creation. These thought-forms are what keep us trapped in dangerous duality in a world where all war is still Holy War.

The language of the imagery in the Iron Age shows how the sky becomes exalted over the earth, and describes how the paradigm of opposition and conflict grips the consciousness of humanity. In the document, The Enuma Elish, there are three principle ideas of the patriarchal paradigm—the supremacy of the father god, the opposition between god and goddess, and the tight association of light, order, and goodness with the god, and darkness, chaos and evil with the goddess.

Cruelty became a virtue and the social norm; war became a constant curse.  We see it all around us today.  By studying the evolution of the cascading, corrupted images of The Great Goddess, we can understand how it came to be this way. We can know that this is not “human nature”, and is not inevitable. Because once, it was different.  And so, we know it would be possible for human consciousness to re-turn to it’s origins, to begin to reconsider the Divine Feminine. To begin this enormous evolutionary task of consciousness, we can launch ourselves on a study of these images and these stories, woven through all of human time, of The Great Goddess.

“We of the here and now are not for a moment hedged in the time-world, nor confined within it….we are incessantly flowing over and over to those who preceded us…we are the bees of the invisible. We deliriously gather the honey of the visible, to accumulate it in the greater golden hive of the invisible.”  (Rilke)

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This lecture for the Goddess class is  inspired by The Great Cosmic Mother, by Monica Sjoo and  Barbara Moore, (Harper and Row, 1987), another fabulous book describing how women and nature went from holy to denigrated under the norms of patriarchy. Interspersed in this lecture with quotations by Sjoo and Mor are quotes from other feminist scholars, including my own thoughts.

  What Goddess Here? Breaking Down The Evolution of Patriarchy     

When activists point to the world’s most terrible problems, people often respon—“How did this happen?”—Well, here is an analysis detailing how the root cause of all modern human misery came about. What goddess here, and how to make sense of the worldwide cataclysm that is patriarchy? Understanding the now-global system of patriarchy is a gateway to begin to understand, and thereby break through our terrible conditioning.

Ancient womyn were the undivided ones—the human female was designed by evolution as the link between flesh and spirit. The mother’s womb is a condensed experience of the cosmos. Prenatal life is the original state of ecstatic consciousness within a sexual/spiritual universe. This shared experience of bodily reciprocity, gave us a taste of the undivided world, and we never forget it in the deepest layers of our psyches. The longing to return to this is not a backward craving but an urge to expand, to re-establish the cosmic connection. This is the core of all mystical experience. No leaders. No followers. No hierarchy.

We are connected to the earth as biological/spiritual beings. Life and earth haven’t changed. Our definitions of reality have changed. In dreams, in sex, in art, and when we’re tripping, we experience biology and spirit as unified.

Male theology is a spectator sport. The hero’s journey exemplifies this, with its insistence on individuation from the unity of the mother, the community, and the emphasis on individual suffering, alienation, competition, violence. In male theology and the hero’s journey, we see illustrations of Her silent presence beside His noisy history.

Under patriarchal religion, maleness is made, invented, mass produced, while femaleness is unmade, de-evolved, extincted. For 2,000 years, womyn have been conditioned out of our natural powers and wisdoms, taught to disregard the effects of our own rhythms, our bodies, while Judeo-Christianity and Islam and even Buddhism gained their energies by co-opting and distorting the goddess, womyn, birth, and blood.

It’s no longer valuable to view politics as merely existing in space, but also, politics exists in time. It’s not just geopolitics, but also, chrono-politics.  Interruptions, oppressions and power structures are in the realm of Time. And that’s where our resistance should be. If we fight in space, instead of time, we will not find the enemy. Because the enemy exists in time—4,000 years ago. We are about to destroy the world because of a profound mistake made in Bronze Age patriarchal ontology. But biology also dreams, and in its dreams it outleaps time as well as space. To evolve in time to save ourselves and all life, we need to activate our genetic capacity for magic. We need to go back in time, and understand the relation to all life that has been denied by every patriarchal religion for 4,000 years.

—The lies of patriarchy rest on these assumptions—
1. The world was created by a male god.
2. Existing cultures and world orders were made by and for men with god’s sanctions.
3. Females exist to serve and populate these male orders.       
4. The autonomous female poses a wild and lethal threat to these orders and must be controlled and repressed.        
5. God’s existence as a male sanctions this repression.

—It’s the perfect circular bullshit model.
Wherever we go on this earth, every institution is built on the solid and rarely questioned slabs of these assumptions.

Patriarchal religions and systems suppress, dam-up and hoard ecstasy, nature, matter, pleasure, and connection. They practice world-hatred, separate the inner and outer worlds, and revere abstraction, which is presented as somehow superior to immersion in Life. Their religions lock us in the prison of dualism. The earth-based religions of the goddess, on the other hand, are about union with all manifest energies.

Ecstasy was once our original state of being as we perceived ourselves connected to all of creation. Now it’s been reduced to the momentary delusion of poets, madmen, drug users, and lovers. Ecstasy means standing outside oneself.  It is our original state of being—sacred union. The cosmic passion of the universe experienced through the thought-forms of the universe—the flesh, the cells, biology and spirit—unified in the imagination of the earth. The earth is a living, intelligent system connecting us all.

The earth-based religions were the celebration of the recognition that we are One with all Life. The celebration of the female—who can give birth from her body and create food to feed that life from her body—is magical, is holy, and is the earliest link to the goddess. From the earliest beginnings, the human community loved, thanked, made art and sang praises to this earth, which like a woman makes food enough for her offspring from her own body. The realms of the goddesses were, for 400,000 years, about celebrating oneness with intense joy, intoxicating ritual, and the illumination of relationship. There’s no border between me and not-me. That’s the ecstasy all religions talk about, but patriarchy patrols the borders of all our minds and bodies, completely controlling womyn and nature both, and all of our minds.

Yes, we long to know the divine, but we must do this by enlarging our souls and lighting up our brains, an activity which runs against the aspirations and apparatus of commerce and politics. Politics, the science of domination, finds illumined and enlarged people way too hard to control. Any study of human history will show that politics usurped religion a very long time ago. Kings bought off priests and fed the people ignorance, superstition and fear to keep them small and under control. Rulers disconnected humans from the earth and the waters. Soul—heavy and hot, was traded for spirit—cool, abstract, detached, connected to the sky, to gasses and fire, and the fire-power of war. Mysticism was criticized, direct participation with divine creation and knowledge was belittled as exotic and inferior. Religion is organized, controlled mysticism, which kills it. Religion is a denial of all that’s divine in people. So, of course we want to do drugs!

Patriarchy is the repression of this energy. It’s a system that harnessed all of this ecstasy and then began to control it, make us fear it, or make us buy it. Patriarchy set out to banish ecstasy in order to control people’s minds. Patriarchy tells us that the body is dirty, Sex, and most forms of ecstasy are sins, and women are “a temple standing over a sewer”—(Saint Paul).

Patriarchy is the opposite of ecstasy, all alienation and domination and suffering. The machinery of patriarchy runs on those ecstatic energies, totally repressed and converted to piety and drudgery. The masses of people are forcibly retrained, retained, and maintained at the level of the reptile brain—the brain of ritualized repetition and benumbed violence. The reptile brain is kept hypnotized from the outside by means of mass-produced dreams, the commercial hallucinations of transcendence, and the longing for things. The luminosity is all on the screens, projected at us, while our evolutionary brain sits in darkness, dulled and numb.

Orgasm is an ecstasy that’s linked to the experience of intrinsic connection, compassion, and the loss of both mind and ego. It’s linked also with the goddess realms of intense joy and illumination that cross the border from the wastelands of despair, sin, suffering and alienation. One may only love god—divinely, abstractly—and so Christians who enjoy a good orgasm face chronic guilt. Nowhere has sex been so debased, and porn so prolific. Non-reproductive ecstasy, the goddess’s initiations and rituals, is forbidden in orthodox religions, especially for women. The fanatic misogyny of Judeo/Christianity and Islam is obvious to see, as patriarchy sets out to destroy our psychic relationship with the earth and the cosmos. Ecstasy is what’s needed, to tear down the isolated ego, to merge again with knowing that we are connected to all life. That and only that will save us.

Fundamentalist Christianity
“You are what is female. You shall be called Eve. And what is masculine shall be called God. And from your name—Eve—we shall take the word, Evil, and from god’s name— the word, Good. Now you understand patriarchal morality.”  (Judy Grahn)

All Patriarchal Religions are misogynist, and all the organized religions of the world are patriarchal. Christianity teaches humans to believe in a hereafter so that they will put up with all manner of tyranny, poverty, and pain. To concentrate on heaven is to create hell. The rain of missiles, the great thunderclap of war, babies born smelling of sulfur. But the time of refreshing shall come, say the orthodox religions of male rule. The cliché of the end of the world is the king of all clichés and came down through the institutional process of organized religion to limit people to second-hand experiences.

Christians longing for heaven, for The Rapture, long to transcend the disorder and chaos of an uncontrollable world. The apocalypse is the driving force in U.S. politics today. The delusional is no longer marginal—it sits in the Oval Office, in the Senate and on the Supreme Court of the United States, and its biggest constituency is actively praying for the end of the world.

“After the last tree is felled, Christ will return.” (James Watt, 2006, Bush’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency. ) It’s not only not important to protect nature, but the sooner it’s destroyed, the better. The war with Islam is welcomed by these people as an essential piece on the road to redemption. Since 2002, 45 Senators and 186 Representatives were Born Again Christians, who believe that we’re living in the End Times. If time doesn’t run out soon, they’re gonna run it out. They see signs that the end is near—the same signs their opportunistic ancestors saw millennia ago. They believe they’re in spiritual warfare on earth, and that this is the time of the immanent second coming of Jesus Christ. They want purity and order, not friction and unpredictability, secured by angels in the final, gated kingdom. The messy unpredictable imperfection of life is solidified by fundamentalist Christianity into a perfectly ordered and totally controlled monolith.

Patriarchal Sexuality
In Christianity, God never has sex. He is literally above life. He lives in the sky. Mary is a virgin who doesn’t have sex. Jesus is a celibate. Eve is condemned, and through her, all womyn, condemned by god to leave the garden forever, and to follow her dumb-ass husband over the barren, male-controlled earth—condemned specifically to unwanted pregnancies, painful childbirth, and ignorance. In all patriarchal religions, womyn are controlled by men, culturally tamed and broken, dominated property of fathers and husbands and sons.

The Goddess only appears three times in the Old Testament—patriarchalized as Eve (bringer of death to the world), demonic as Lilith, and male-corrupting as The Whore of Babylon. The mouthpieces of Judeo-Christianity were too freaked out by her openness, her variability, her magic, and her carnality to even write down her name—Astoreth, Inanna, Astarte, Isis. (These were the various names of the Great Goddesses of the Middle East at the time of Yahweh.)

Male-dominated agriculture evolved the concept of the earth as inert, and the life seed—(sperm)—as containing the child. ‘Ploughing’ was the rape of the earth’s dumb matter by the enlightened spirit, sowing the life force of his seed. The female ovum wasn’t discovered by science till 1827, so for 4,000 years of patriarchy, all religions, philosophies, and biological theories were based on the assumption that the male was the sole generative physical and cosmic force. This set humans up for complete alienation from connection—nothing makes any sense separate from the earth. Judeo-Christians were anti- earth, anti-body, anti- woman, anti-pleasure, anti-unity. Sex was just for reproduction and training in sexual paranoia; it’s is still an all-pervasive belief among orthodox religious people. Above all, women must not enjoy sex.

Since the dawn of consciousness, the light of the world was the Divine Mother, who all male gods usurped or killed outright. She—Mother of God, the mother of all—was life-giving and nurturing, yes, and these are the only acceptable qualities of womanhood remaining to us in patriarchy, but She was also the mistress of chaos and destruction, the abyss that is the source and the end, the ground of all being. Life still begins in the womb and the earth. Because she was changeable and playful, because she loved natural chaos as much as natural order, because her feminine intuition was at odds with masculine reason, because she could give life while they could only take it, resentful Hebrew priests led a coup against her 4,000 years ago and Western Civilization is the result, and only men control the divine channels now. Even though their control is an illusion, their laws, institutions, and weaponry are all-too real, and these exist to maintain that illusion.

So here’s an important question —why do womyn continue to serve male dominated and male defined institutions which are based, structurally and ideologically, on a searing contempt and hatred of womyn? After 2 or 3 millennia of serving a male god, of this level of brainwashing, could womyn ever take ourselves seriously enough to serve the sacredness of ourselves, of each other, of future survival, of the earth and her holy wild creatures?

In the patriarchal myth of Christianity, Mary is utterly meek and passive—she is the captured goddess, metaphysically cannibalized, domesticated and tranquilized. She gives birth in silent bliss and tranquility, while Christ is the one who suffers, twists on the cross in labor giving birth to a redeemed human race. Blood pours from his body in a parody of the female experience, while womyn, who really do these things, have been forced to hide our bleeding, our childbirth, our breastfeeding, our messiness out of sight in shame and inferiority. The deified male martyr flaunts his “sacrifice” everywhere, while we are required by “decency” to hide ours.  Womyns bodies, womyn’s powers, womyn’s cycles were excluded because we are politically subversive.

Matriarchy means “rule by the mothers”. In matriarchal societies, a man stood in relation to his mother. He was the son; she was the divine. All the ancient male heroes receive their beauty, strength, and their creative-destructive powers from their mothers, all of them are chopped-up forms of the Great Goddess.

Abortion foes aren’t “pro-life”, they’re pro-fetus. Well, it’s easy to champion a fetus when the women are doing all the work. What is hard is to change the world so millions and millions of children have a chance for some kind of goodness in life after they’re born. This is the only real pro-life work. Fundamentalists aren’t involved in a religion of life, but in a religion of male control, which is about a male’s exclusive rights to make life and death decisions.  

Abortion represents a woman’s right to make life and death decisions. It’s one way to regain our ancient power and intuitive skills by making these decisions. This is how god becomes female again. Even primates nurse their babies for 3-6 years before becoming pregnant again. This much suffering, starvation and poverty from overpopulation is not Natural, is Not “Life”- it’s a condition traceable solely and specifically to patriarchal religions. These religions support nuclear proliferation, the death penalty, and war against other humans and the Earth. There is nothing “pro-life” about them. The truth is that Life does not begin or end. Life is always here. It doesn’t emerge from us, we emerge from Life.

Perpetual war
Perpetual war is necessary to maintain perpetually exploitable humans. Man’s social and economic institutions exist to provide continuous cannon fodder and spoils for continuous war. The city began as a fortress. And it doesn’t even matter if war occurs, it is the PREPARATION for war that drains all resources and keeps the hierarchy in place. Whether we are fighting others, ourselves, or just chronically getting ready to fight, it makes no difference. The result is that, for 3 or 4000 years, we’ve lived and died in a structural, habitual state of war. All resources run from the needs of a society towards it, and all people live in a state of lack and unconscious fear because of it.

The energetic state of war is unconsciousness, but consciousness is the energized aim of evolution. Evolution is the biological epiphany of consciousness. No wonder the fundamentalists want to dispute evolution’s existence. They just want war without end, not world without end. The war god exists to drag us back into a state of oblivion, to before consciousness began, but without all the magnificent potential. The god of patriarchy has always been a god of war and economic exploitation. He is a dominator, a god of money and hierarchy and power, a controller of nature’s bodies and women’s bodies.

“We need a god who bleeds now/ not wounded but who bleeds to life/ a god who’s wounds are not the end of anything…the planet mourns our ignorance.” (Ntozake Shange)

For hundreds of thousands of years, women and men participated in shared work and ritual celebration of communalism. But, the last 3 or 4,000 years have created patriarchal economic systems of state, military, business, court, and religious ruling elites who collude in mutual empowerment to exploit human labor and earth’s resources. All historic revolutions have done is add new, additional economic groups to the collusion—slaves, women, immigrants, and the working classes.

Capitalism is incapable of working if it pays a living wage. The capitalist system is parasitic rather than actually productive. It uses business to co-opt and take credit for the accumulated knowledge, experience, inventions and discoveries, and sells it all for its own profit—at a gross loss to the planet, all animals, and all but the most elite humans. It monopolizes and distributes all wealth and resources to keep us in need for all the stages of all our lives. All the world locked down in an obsolete male power dance of capitalism, politics, and religion.           

By setting itself against evolution—“the continuous epiphany of biological consciousness”, patriarchy had set itself against Life, and plundered its way toward the complete construction of a substitute life—The global shopping mall, a man-made mechanical paradise. Shop till you drop, and shop till the world’s life-support systems drop too. That’s the dictum of modern capitalism.

Capitalist theory fits perfectly with patriarchal religion. Organic, celebratory links to the earth and the body are gone. Communal sharing is gone. Neolithic goddess religions that supported and taught this way of life are politically destroyed. That is the story of the Old Testament—it’s one, long coup against the pagans. Now all we have to work with are habitually repressed energies, functioning on mere subsistence levels, capable only of piety, misery, meaninglessness and drudgery, incapable of revolutionary ecstasy, expansion and illumination, and no time or energy to escape. No time or energy to even question what’s happened to us, or why or who is served. What is served. And to never question where all our potential and all our sacred, shining energy has gone. All potential buried beneath the almighty dollar.

We live today on a dying planet undergoing prolonged torture. A fully sensate being subjected to an infinite amount of murders. Dynamited and clear cut and strip-mined and gassed with poisons. The sea, her brain, the air, her breath—all thick with toxins. All the heavy metals leaching into her womb to be drunk by a million tongues of roots. Instead of cosmic energy and creative power, we are addicted to false poisonous energies—oil, electricity, sugar, mass entertainment, shopping, driving, & war.

The Machine
All the fabulous little machines we’re surrounded by, particularly in the age of high technology, are substitutes for living flesh and our connection to the living world. What is the machine but man’s baby, man’s transformational ritual, his magical uterus of mass production? The machine converts buffaloes into dogfood, ancient forests into toothpicks, the black blood of the earth’s veins into nuclear missiles, plastic shit, beer cans, and air pollution. Now he too can be a mother.

All machines run on fuel, and all fuel is originally organic energy. Controlling capitalism today are the fully-repressed energies of orgasmic sexual ecstasy, delight in connection with nature, and authentic spiritual epiphany. The masses of people everywhere forcibly retrained, retained, and maintained at the level of the reptile brain. This is the brain of ritualized repetition and benumbed violence. The reptile brain is kept hypnotized from the outside by systems of patriarchy and capitalism that reinforce in us all the mass produced dreams and longing for things. These commercial hallucinations of transcendence rule our lives. We are lost in the commodities we live for and devour. The luminosity is all on the screen projected at us, at our slavering reptile brain, while our evolutionary brain sits slumbering in darkness.

Our modern-day heroes —Superman, Batman, James Bond, The Terminator, Transformers—are skilled in one thing—machinery. They are not erotically/sexually connected, or heart-connected at all. They are too busy, too patriotic, too dangerous, or moving too fast for real relationship. Their primary relationship is to their machines—guns, cars, planes—the power and the wildness in these heroes is embodied in man-made metal objects. There’s not a tree or moon in sight. Totally disconnected, like Zeus, like Yahweh—their prototypes. We are living beings embodied in a living earth. All patriarchal heroes are designed, consciously or unconsciously, to deny that memory and practice, and to turn us into numb mechanical workers. That’s capitalist theology. The mother is gone; we have only the machine.

Cities and Deserts
Rome was, perhaps, the first empire that excelled in the struggle for freedom-from-Nature and natural needs. This marks the historical trend of Christianity, and replaces religion with the political idea of authority that overruns everything and molds all the world to its own needs. Rome carried on a ruthless struggle to raise the patriarchal political state above spirituality, and imposed a historical-linear view of the universe instead of the ancient cosmic-cycle view. Rome cast off “natural law” and eradicated every trace of the great matriarchal cultures. Everywhere, the Roman male regards himself as the first factor in historical life, as did the Greek male. Among Rome’s first edicts was the subjugation of women and children to the complete control of the father, who was given life and death powers over all members of the family.

Roman cities, so beloved of so many scholars of patriarchy, is a profound lesson. Here, we see the city emerging as man’s ultimate attempt to be a Mother, to become man-made, born from himself rather than from Mother Nature. The feeling of self-sufficiency he achieves through the city is abstract, because the sources of our biological lives remain the same as they always were—they come from the land and matter. But city-man maintains contact with his natural life sources, not from immediate body experience, but through the artificial medium of exchange—money.  He no longer works with the earth. He buys it and sells it. The ancient energy exchange between humans and nature becomes a money exchange between humans only.

Money is at the heart of the new accumulation complex—the capacity of money to bear interest is its energy, while its body is that fundamental institution of civilized man—the city. Archeologists note the complete rupture with the previous style of life which marks the foundations of the first cities. A city reflects the new masculine aggressive psychology of revolt against the female principles of inter-dependence, cooperation, and nature.

The famous Roman roads were built by slaves, and were meant to transport armies and weaponry, as well as slaves, outward into the empire’s tribal territories. The wealth of the plundered earth was then transported back into Rome on those legendary roads to support the increasingly complex way of life at its imperial urban heart. And so we hear and we repeat, without understanding the historical foundation—“All roads lead to Rome.”.

The city broke down the organic life of the tribe and the agricultural village. It brought about the final destruction of the matriarchy and instituted the patriarchal rule of abstract urban “law and order”. Life materials, life styles, and life energies were torn from nature by technical and mechanical means. All this was unconsciously understood as the conquest of male mind over female matter.

The ego has definitely arrived on the scene of history, and it is screaming out against its cosmic isolation. Before, all the processes of culture were connected with the cycles of nature, and in death, tribal man simply returned to the Great Mother. But when civilized man sets up walls between himself and the forest, and when he sets up his personal name against the stars, he ensures that the now-isolated ego will cry out in painful recognition of its complete alienation, all connected to his fear of death. It’s a proven fact that men are far more afraid of death than women, and maybe this is why.

Significantly, the murder of forests always leads to deserts.  Deserts always seem like ancient environments, but in fact they are the youngest environments on earth. Most deserts are man-made. They are what’s left after everything else has been conquered, or used up. Perhaps this is why the ancient Hebrews and their Old Testament mind-set were so brutal. Nature wasn’t supportive of them as they needed it to be. It was all used up by previous settlers. In my opinion, they were pissed off, for the most part, because they percieved nature to be their enemy.

To evolve in time to save ourselves, we need to recognize the relationship of human life to That Which Is. All patriarchal religions have denied this relationship. They practice world-hatred, and seek to transcend matter and The Mother. They separate the inner and outer worlds, and they revere abstraction as superior somehow to full immersion in life. They suppress, damn, & hoard ecstasy, nature, matter, pleasure, divinity, and connection. In their paranoia and violence, they’ve completely lost their way, and in their confusion, have created this prison of dualism.

The mission handed down from a male deity to the forefathers was a command to control. A compulsion, a coersion, a bombing mission, a phallic outward thrusting explosion from one single source. Under patriarchy, the history of the world is weighted down with this burden of violence. It’s time to move from rape to reciprocity.

We need to feel the wonder of givenness—the beautiful gift we’ve been born into. We need an ever-more conscious participation in the community of Being. The earth is with us, not for us. The return of the goddess is not focused on transcendence, but on the embodiment of the sacred, here and now, in life and in relationships. The matriarchal deity is not the mother-in-heaven or anywhere else besides the ground. All ground is holy ground. All water is holy water. The Great Goddess is physical and always present—she surrounds us. She is the earth we are living on and she is the cosmos we see above us shining. And she is also within us. So, she is not alien, other-worldly, or elevated. Not ever.

“I am a waste dump site, like much of the earth; my stream of consciousness is thoroughly polluted. I do not trust anything…. Still, the moon began again last night.” (Susan Griffin)

How might our lives have been different, how might the lives of a thousand generations of women been different, if there was a place for us? A holy, true place? If there was, as there once, no distinction between the Primordial Goddess, the earth, and the earth’s children?          
“Let us say the time of our waiting is over. That the silence has been broken. Let us say there can be no forgetting now.” (Olga Broumas.)

The Eco-zoic Era
This time we have to live on this planet, this life in the 21st century on Earth,  could shift everything. Here and now is the only time we have for action, if we can grasp the opportunity for compassionate survival. Here and now is where we can break the brokenness of human alienation. We need a new global spirituality that acknowledges our earthly roots as evolutionary beings. We need a new ontology that acknowledges the earth as a conscious and spiritual being. We need to evolve or die. Most days it seems that we have chosen.

We will only survive this time in history if we can remember the bio-chemical connections between our cells and the stars, between the beginning of time and now. We must return to that time, in our genetic memory and in our dreams, when we were born to live together with all species—all of us relatives. These are things humans have known for most of our time. For at least 500,000 years of human time, we have known them. For 5 billion years of earth time we have known them. For 13 billion years of galactic time we have known them. Set against this time of knowing our Oneness, the past 4,000 years are merely an aberration. Just a brief forgetting.

*The end of patriarchy is our rapture. Nothing burning but our souls, minds, freedom, creativity, and our passion for this world. (Oak Chezar)

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The Process of Becoming

on Women Moving To the Center in Patriarchy
excerpted from Gerda Lerner*

The myth that women are marginal to the creation of history and civilization has profoundly affected the psychology of women and men. It has given men a skewed and essentially erroneous view of their place in human society and in the universe. Most difficult of all was the seeming absence of a tradition which would reaffirm the independence and autonomy of women. It seems in the history of patriarchy that there had never been any group of women who had lived without male protection. All the important examples to the contrary were expressed in myth and fable—amazons, dragon-slayers, women with magic powers. But in real life, women had no history—so they were told and so they believed. And because they had no history, they had no future alternatives.

In one sense, class struggle can be described as a struggle for the control of the symbol systems of a given society. The oppressed group, while it shares in and partakes of the leading symbols controlled by the dominant group, also develops its own symbols. These become, in time of revolutionary change, important forces in the creation of alternatives. Thus, slaves living in an environment controlled by their masters, could maintain their humanity by holding onto their own “culture”. Such a culture consisted of collective memories, carefully kept alive, of a prior state of freedom and of alternatives to the masters’ ritual, symbols, and beliefs.  What was decisive for the individual was the ability to identity him/herself with a state different from that of enslavement or subordination. No matter how degraded, each male slave or peasant was like to the master in his relationship with god. This was not the case for women.They never had a reference to other females in positions of intellectual authority and religious leadership. The few exceptional noblewomen and mystics, mostly cloistered nuns, were unlikely models for the ordinary woman.

Where there is no precedent, one cannot imagine alternatives to existing conditions. It is this feature of male hegemony which has been most damaging to women and has ensured their subordinate statues for thousands of years. The denial to women of their history has reinforced their acceptance of the ideology of patriarchy and has undermined the individual women’s sense of self-worth. Men’s version of history, legitimized as “universal truth”, has presented women as marginal to civilization and as the victim of historical process. To be so presented and to believe it is almost worse than being entirely forgotten. The picture is false, as we now know, but women’s progress thought history has been marked by their struggle against this disabling distortion.

Moreover, for more than 2500 years, women have been educationally disadvantaged and deprived of the conditions under which to develop abstract thought. Abstract thinking is key to creating symbol systems. Obviously thought is not based on sex; the capacity for thought is inherent in humanity—it can be fostered or discouraged but it cannot ultimately be restrained.  But, the generating of abstract thought and of new conceptual models—theory formation—is another matter.  This activity depends on the individual thinkers’ education in the best existing traditions, and on the thinkers’ acceptance by a group of educated persons who, by criticism and interaction, provide “cultural prodding”.

Women being central to cultural development depends on them having private time.  Finally, it depends on the individual thinker being capable of making a creative leap into a new ordering.  Women, historically, have been unable to avail themselves of all these necessary preconditions. Universally, women of all classes have had less leisure time than men and due to their child-rearing and family service function, taking care of food and dirt, food and dirt, an endlessly repetitive cycle. What free time they had was not their own. The time of thinking men has, since the inception of Greek philosophy, been respected as private. Women have for more than 2500 years suffered the disadvantages of constantly interrupted, fragmented time. Finally, the kind of character development which makes a mind capable of seeing new connections and fashioning a new order of abstractions has been exactly the opposite of that required of women, trained to accept their subordinate status and service-oriented position in society.

Academically-trained women, especially in the past hundred years, have first had to learn how to “think like a man”.  In the process, many of them have so internalized that learning that they have lost the ability to conceive of alternatives. The way to think abstractly is to define precisely, to create models in the mind and generalize from them. Such thought, men have taught us, must be based on the exclusion of feelings. Women—like the poor, the subordinate, the marginal— have close knowledge of ambiguity, of feelings mixed with thought, of value judgments coloring abstractions.  Living in a world where they are so devalued, their experience bears the stigma of insignificance. Thus they have learned to mistrust their own experience and devalue it.  Women deal, not with abstractions, but with the particular—they experience reality daily, hourly in their service function—taking care of food and dirt. In their constantly- interrupted time and splintered attention lies a huge barrier. How can one generalize while the particular tugs at one’s sleeve? Why no female system-builders? Because one cannot think in universals when one’s self is excluded from the generic.  He, who makes symbols and explains the world and she, who takes care of bodily and psychic needs and of his children—the gulf between them is enormous.

The social cost of having excluded women from the human enterprise of constructing abstract thought has never been reckoned. For centuries, we find in the works of literary women a pathetic, almost desperate search for Women’s History, long before such historical studies exist. The voices of anonymous women were always present as a steady undercurrent in the oral tradition, in folksong and nursery rhymes, tales of powerful witches and good fairies. In stitchery, embroidery, and quilting women’s artistic creativity expressed an alternate vision. In letters, diaries, prayers, and songs, the symbol-making force of women’s creativity pulsed and persisted.

Women and men have entered the historical process under different conditions and have passed through it at different rates of speed. Recording, defining, and interpreting marks men’s entry into history, and this occurred for males in the third millennium B.C. (3,000 BC).

It occurred for women, and only some of them, with few notable exceptions, in the nineteenth century. Until then, all History was for women pre-History.  

Women’s lack of knowledge of our own history of struggle and achievement has been one of the major means of keeping us subordinate. But even those of us already defining ourselves as feminist thinkers are still held back by unacknowledged restraints buried deep within our psyches. How can our daring thought co-exist with our life as a woman? More immediately, many may fear the threat of loss of communication with, approval by, and love from the man (or men) in our lives. Withdrawal of love and the designation of thinking woman as “deviant” (lesbian, or man-hater) have historically been the means of discouraging woman’s intellectual work. In the past, and now, many emergent women have turned to other women as love objects and reinforcers of self. Heterosexual feminists too have, throughout the ages, drawn strength from their friendships with women, from their chosen celibacy, or from the separation of sex from love. No thinking-man has ever been threatened in his self-definition and his love life as the price for his thinking.  We should not underestimate the significance of that aspect of gender control as a force restraining women from full participation in the process of creating thought systems.

Nor is this the end of our difficulties. In line with our historic gender conditioning, women have aimed to please and have sought to avoid disapproval. This is poor preparation for making the leap into the unknown required of those who fashion new systems. Moreover, each emergent woman has been schooled in patriarchal thought. We each hold at least one “Great Man” in our heads. The lack of knowledge of the female past has deprived us of female heroines, a fact which is only recently being corrected through the development of Women’s History. So, for a long time, thinking women have refurbished the idea systems created by thinking men, engaging in a dialogue with the great male minds in their heads.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton took on the Bible, the church fathers, and the founders of the American Republic. Kate Millet argued with Freud, Norman Mailer, and the liberal literary establishment.  Simone de Beauvoir with Sartre, Marx, and Camus. All Marxist-Feminists are in a dialogue with Marx and Engels and many with Freud. In this dialogue, the woman tends to merely accept whatever she finds useful to her in the great man’s system. But in these systems, woman-as-concept, a collective entity, an individual—is marginalized or subsumed.  In accepting such dialogue, thinking-woman stays far longer than is useful within the boundaries or the question-setting defined by the great men. And just as long as she does, new insights are closed to her.

Revolutionary thought has always been based on upgrading the experience of the oppressed.  The peasant had to learn to trust in the significance of his life experience before he could dare to challenge the feudal lords. The industrial worker had to become “class conscious”, the Black revolutionary “race-conscious” before liberating thought could develop into a revolutionary theory. The oppressed have acted and learned simultaneously—the process of becoming the newly conscious person or group is in itself liberating. So with women.

The shift in consciousness we must make occurs in two steps—we must, at least for a time, be woman-centered. We must, as far as possible, leave patriarchal thought behind.  

To be WOMAN-CENTERED means asking if women were central to this argument, how would it be defined? It means ignoring all evidence of woman’s marginality, because even where women appear to be marginal, this is the result of patriarchal intervention; frequently it is merely an appearance. The basic assumption should be that it is inconceivable for anything ever to have taken place in the world in which women were not involved, except if they were prevented from participation through coercion and repression. We must use methods and concepts from traditional thought systems from the vantage point of the centrality of women.

Women cannot be put into the empty spaces of patriarchal thought and systems—in moving to the center, they transform the system.

To step outside of patriarchal thought means being skeptical towards every known system; being critical of all assumptions, values, and definitions. It means getting rid of the deep seated resistance we have within ourselves, and accepting ourselves and our knowledge as valid.  It means getting rid of the great man in our heads and substituting him with ourselves, our sisters, and our anonymous foremothers. It means being critical towards our own thought, which is, after all, trained in the patriarchal tradition. Finally, it means developing an intellectual courage, the courage to stand alone, the courage to reach farther than our grasp, the courage to risk failure. Perhaps the greatest challenge to thinking women is the challenge to move from the desire for safety and approval to that most “unfeminine” quality of all— intellectual arrogance – that supreme hubris which asserts itself the right to reorder the world. The hubris of the god-makers, the hubris of male system builders.

The system of patriarchy is a historical construct. It had a beginning, it will have an end. Its time seems to have nearly run its course. It no longer serves the needs of men or women and in its inextricable linkage to militarism, hierarchy, and racism it threatens the very existence of life on earth. What will come after, what kind of structure for alternate forms of social organization, we cannot yet know. We are in the process of becoming. This is an age of unprecedented transformation. Yet, as long as both men and women regard the subordination of half the human race, it is impossible to envision a society in which differences do not connote either dominance or submission. Women’s history is an essential tool in creating feminist consciousness in women, in providing the body of experience against which new theory can be tested, and the ground on which women of vision can stand.

A feminist world view will enable women and men to free their minds from patriarchal thought and practice, and at last to build a world free of domination and hierarchy, a world that is truly human.

*The late, great thinker and scholar, Gerda Lerner created the nation’s first Women’s History Program, and created an M.A. in it at Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD program in Women’s History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She believed that the main strength of patriarchy was ideological, and that in western societies it "severed the connection between women and the Divine".

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The Goddess &
Women’s Spirituality

More and more, we are beginning to remember that the Great Goddess, the Mother of god, was the image of Unity. The symbols of life-giving, of nourishment, of receiving the dead back into her womb for rebirth covered the walls of our pre-historic caves, sang from ancient poetry and art, live still in old shape-shifted rituals, stolen by patriarchal religions. She reigned for most of human history, pre-history, as literate culture evolved by trampling her presence into ever-fainter whispers.

The myth of the Goddess was dismembered, buried by patriarchy in plain sight beneath temples and churches. The myth of violent male sky gods were superimposed over our original reality of unity and peace. But myth is a map of the psyche of a people; myth tells our consciousness, evolving as story. There is an archeology of the psyche. We can dig down to recover what’s been destroyed. Duality and domination have become the one story of this world for the past 5,000 years. Separation, competition, terror are the tenets we live by. That original unity has been gone from this world for just a few millennia, lost to patriarchal consciousness, so that we believe this fear is the only alternative. Our transition as a species, from peaceful co-existence and Be-longing to war and rivalry is a chronicle of terror. But it wasn’t always this way.

Once, there was the immortal Goddess, and she was our mother, and we weren’t afraid of death. There was continuous renewal—transformation and rebirth were everywhere. Under the patriarchal sky-gods, we forgot the return, the lunar journey from dark to full and back again was lost with sun-gods. Death became final, and life became tragic. Fear the only option. The experience of Her totality became an experience of His opposition. Religion shifted our consciousness, and our goddess-forsaken consciousness shifted religion until fortresses and security states and 5,000 years of endless war dropped the full weight of PTSD upon our species, and enemies rose up from every nightmare to greet us each new day.

Knowing what humans were helps guide us to develop into who we can become. Our assumptions about human nature are critical to our beliefs, behaviors, and desires. We long for ritual and metaphor—symbols give us meaning and the motivation to move in different, ancient rhythms, trusting the life force. Reenactments of ecstatic unity, expressing ritually the reunion of humans with animals, plants seasons, and elements, can be experienced through ritual, trance, activism, and awakening the magic we once knew in our daily pre-patriarchal lives.

Rituals are compressed stories. The cycles of the moon and the holy days are the thread upon which all our beads were strung— the moon was one profound symbol of the Goddess. The moon was the eternal source of an ancient story— the constant cycling, forever changing in ways that are forever the same. In the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, and the Bronze Ages, images of the moon and the fertility of womyn were the foundation of the old story. The moral vision expressed in the ancient connection to the earth and the Great mother shifted when our individual life became separated from the eternal life, as one part broke away, mind-first, from the whole.

Our consciousness became split, the original signal distorted, the human no longer sacred, the world no longer sacred. The Goddess became relegated to the unconscious psyche, arising in myths, archetypes, symbols, legends, and fairy tales beside every religion and within every culture. These images of the Goddess live on in the roots of the human psyche, buried beneath this late addition of separation and alienation, which seems inevitable to us, as most of us have experienced nothing else for five-thousand years. But invisible dimensions await us—these are approached symbolically, through the spiral labyrinths of myth and ritual. Intricate pathways connect the visible world of the senses to the archetypal realms of the Goddess.

In women’s spirituality, the year is a circle without beginning or end. Our wheel of the year, celebrating the moon and the 8 holy days, are a recreation of the oldest story. We participate with the life force as we follow the seasons through mythic themes that ritualize life, death and rebirth. We celebrate the cross quarter days of the Solstices and Equinoxes—falling between these are the lunar sabbats called Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and All Hallows.  We watch the earth change with the myth of the Goddess’s travels as rites of passage, and we see our lives reflected back as holy. Each holy day has a seasonal theme, as well as a ritual who’s particular purpose is reenacted. As we ritualize our lives and participate with the life of the earth in the stories of the Goddess, we re-member in our bodies the never-ending, ever-changing rhythm of the pattern of life.

Starhawk, Excerpts from The Spiral Dance

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Aphrodite, Ceridwen, Diana, Brigid, and many other names—

“Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me who is Queen of all the Wise. You shall be free from slavery…sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth. For my law is love unto all beings. Mine is the secret knowledge of the spirit eternal and beyond death. I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before. Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.

I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return. Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold- all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning , and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

The Goddess is the liberator of women, and indeed, of all humans who suffer under patriarchy, (which is to say all humans, save for the ones in charge of money and power.) She is manifest in our deepest drives and emotions, which always and inevitably threaten the systems designed to contain them. She is love and anger, which refuse to fit comfortably into the social order.

The secret of immortality lies in seeing death as an integral part of the cycle of life. Rebirth can be seen in life itself, where every ending brings a new beginning—all events are continuing processes.

The Goddess’s love is unconditional. She does not ask for sacrifices; sacrifice is inherent in life, in the constant change that brings constant losses. If we believe that humans are essentially warlike and aggressive, and god is a judging, punishing, sterile force, then we will be that. But we weren’t always this way. For 5,000 years, the monotheistic male sky gods demanded domination by excluding the life-renewing, holy female figures of our past, and by denying nature herself.

Pleasure is not superficial, but becomes a profound expression of the life force; a connecting power linking us to others, and not merely sensation of satisfying our own isolated needs. Finally, desire is itself seen as a manifestation of the Goddess. We do not seek to conquer or escape from our desires— we seek to fulfill them. Desire is the glue of the universe—it binds the electron to the nucleus, the planet to the sun—and so creates form, creates the world. We are already one with the Goddess— She has been with us from the beginning. So fulfillment becomes, not a matter of self indulgence, but of self- awareness.

Tables of Correspondences—Helpful in ceremony for calling-in the directions.

Direction- east
Rules the mind, all mental, intuitive, and psychic work, knowledge, abstract learning, windswept hills, plains, windy beaches, high mountain peaks, towers, wind, breath.
Time- dawn
Season- spring
Colors- blue, white, bright yellow
Signs- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.
Plants- frankincense, myrrh, pansy, primrose, violet, vervain, yarrow
Tree- aspen
Animals- birds, especially eagle and hawk
Goddesses- Arianrod, Nut, Urania
Gods- Enlil, Mercury, Shu, Thoth

Direction- south
Rules energy, spirit, heat, flame, blood, sap, life will, healing and destroying, purification, transformation, bonfires, candle flames, solar power, sun, deserts, volcanoes, eruptions, explosions.
Time- noon
Season- summer
Colors-red, orange, white of the sun at noon
Signs- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Plants- garlic, hibiscus, mustard, nettle, onion, red peppers, red poppies
Tree- almond, in flower
Animals- fire-breathing dragons, lions, horses
Goddesses- Brigit, Hestia, Pele, Vesta
Gods- Hephaestus, Horus, Vulcan

Direction- west
Rules emotions, feelings, love, courage, daring, sorrow, the ocenan, the tides, lakes, pools, streams, rivers, springs, wells, intuition, the unconscious mind, dreams, the womb, generation, fertility.
Time- twilight
Season- autumn
Colors- blue, blue green, green, grey, indigo
Signs- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Plants- ferns, lotus, mosses, rushes, seaweeds, water lillies, all water plants
Tree- willow
Animals- dragons as serpents, dolphins and porpoises, fish, seals and sea mammals, water dwelling snakes, all water creatures , sea birds.
Goddesses- Aphrodite, Isis, Mari, Tiamat

Direction- north
Rules the body, growth, nature, sustenance, material gain, money, creativity, birth, death, silence, caverns, caves, groves, fields, rocks, standing stones, mountains, crystal, jewels, metal
Time- midnight
Season- winter
Colors- black, brown, green, white
Signs- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Plants- comfrey, ivy, grains (barley, oats, corn, rice, rye, wheat)
Tree- oak
Animal- cow or bull, bison, snakes, stag
Goddesses- Demeter, Ceres, Gaea, Nephthys, Persephone, Rhea, Rhiannon
Gods- Afonis, Dionysus, Marduk, Pan, Tammuz

Direction- center, throughout and about
Rules transcendence, transformation, change, everywhere and nowhere, within and without, the void, immanence
Time- beyond time, all time Is one
Season- the turning of the wheel
Colors- clear, white, black
Tree- mistletoe
Animal- the Sphinx
Goddesses- Isis, the Secret Name of the Goddess, Shekinah

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