Saturday, October 08, 2005

God – Symptom or Cause?

If I understood her correctly, Ursa last week suggested that gods are only a symptom of our problems -- the real, root cause is men.

In other words, the patriarchy came first, and the gods followed. Or, put another way, the gods didn’t produce the patriarchy, the patriarchy produced the gods.


I thought about this so hard I hadda take Tylenol. I’m gonna go with this: It’s complicated (don’t you just hate when people say that?). I think what was at work was what cyberneticists call a “circular feedback mechanism.” The environment changes the system, but then the system bites back and changes the environment, which in turn strikes back and works on the system again, and so forth and so on. For more on circular feedback mechanisms go here.

About 6000 years ago, the rising value of men and the falling value of women* lead to a jump in thoughts about male deity and a decline in thoughts about female deity; this made male behavior a little more valuable in people's minds and female behavior a little less; this in turn boosted male gods but not female gods; and the cycle just keeps going on and on.

You may have heard this slang term: “vicious cycle.”

To me, the important question is this: If we replaced our gods with Goddesses, would our patriarchy melt away into something sane? I think the answer is yes.

*The theory is that, due to centuries-long desertification of Northern Africa, the Mid East and Central Asia, young males were often the only members in any group to survive, and almost always the group members most able to fight for nearly non-existent food and water resources. This of course, is only a mild hint at the enormous and enormously varied pressures put on our ancestors in this kind of long-term ecological crisis.


Lisa said...


Morgaine said...

I think the origin is easier than that. It's greed. Women used to be identified with the land. All political power passed through the female line. At some point, the Egyptian men in the royal line, and who knows who else, started marrying their sisters to keep property and power in the family. Eventually that shifted so that power went directly to the male heir rather than through the female line. That's a gross over-simplification, but you know what I mean.

Because Priests and Kings were trying to amass power and wealth, they worked together. They had to overthrow the Goddess to take power from women, and they had to create male gods that enforced the hierarchal structure that benefitted men. They wanted to separate people from nature and from their own sexuality because it makes people violent and easier to control. Goddess people had too much sex to make them good warriors - you just can't work up a hateful, homicidal rage if you've just had an orgasm. That's why they became so restrictive about sexuality. Also, you can't have a patriarchy if you don't know who the daddies are... Control of women's sexuality was essential to create patrilineal inheritance.

I wish I had the patience to write science fiction stories. I've got all kinds of scenarios running around about shifting back to matriarchy.

Athana said...

Oh, Morgaine, you have to listen to Heide Goettner Abendroth’s Matriarchy Conference presentation, “The Rise of Patriarchy”! It is fantastic. The thing is, if you say the seed of patriarchy was greed and then a wresting of power/influence away from women, you have to assume that the old matriarchal women were so weak that their power could be taken away by matriarchal men, and that the matriarchal men were so much stronger that they were able to do this. And you have to assume that the matriarchal men were unhapphy. She says you always have to remember that you begin with matriarchy! Any theory about the rise of patriarchy must begin with the fact that it arose out of societies with exceptionally strong, healthy women. And men who were sane. And a society that was humane and sane. The matriarchal men were not like the men we know today. For one thing, they weren’t unhappy!!! Why would they want change?!

No, I agree with Heide and with James DeMeo – there had to be catastrophic and long term forces at work to break down those strong, healthy, pleasant old matriarchies.

Then, after they broke down, then that’s when the stuff you talk about was instituted – the marrying of sisters etc. But that didn’t happen until an old way was battered to death, and a new way (strong-man war rule etc.) had time to solidify.

I hope, hope, hope you can get and read a copy of James DeMeo's Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence. I woke up this morning dreaming about buying dozens of copies and distributing them to everyone I know.

Morgaine said...

Which reminds me - I still have to get your book in the mail.

I read a theory once that there was a literal "Dark Age" during which summers became very short, and the weather very cold, probably due to ash in the atmosphere from a huge volcano somewhere in the Mediterranean. Because the growing season was so short and unproductive, agrarian cultures were invaded by people who hunted and stole what they needed. Patriarchy replaced matriarchy as the starving agrarian people were enslaved by the aggressors. What do you think of that theory?

Lisa said...

Okay, now I'm a little pissed... If you guys know so much about "herstory" and archaeological evidence and all that and accuse me falling under the wheel of my patriarchal University education, blah blah, blah... why don't you know about all this already? How come it takes a German Ph.D. Crone and a guy with maps to get you to even listen to an alternate theory? That's really upsetting, I just assumed you guys weren't so elitist, but I've been telling you all this already. :*( What the...?

Athana said...

Morgaine: I can tell you what I think Heide G-A, James DeMeo and archaeologists I’ve read would think. The climate change from the volcanic ash would have to last over several generations, and would need to affect large areas of land – enough so that people couldn’t escape (on foot!) from the bad land before dying of starvation/dehydration. And, there’d need to be a large human population in that large area of slowly shrinking and spoiling land – otherwise the gentle matriarchal people could and would just move to empty land. Heide at least thinks that when the matriarchals in “catastrophic change” areas finally found fertile land, there was always someone else already living on it. So their choice was: turn back into the desert and die, or take the land by force. And at first, for generations, those who tried to take the land failed (they’re travel weary and starving, the owners of the land aren’t!). But over time, some learned techniques allowing them to win (better weapons; new materials like iron; strong-man rule?). For a long time, the winners burned settlements and killed people and then moved in. But next, they got more efficient. They began to DOMINATE the conquered settlements. Only then, says Heide, do you have PATRIARCHY. With institutionalized DOMINANCE you are out of matriarchy, and into the psychosis of patriarchy, caste systems, social classes, slavery, etc.

ursa said...

I think you are both right,but heres another theory for the pot, these wars were gene wars,because to some extent all wars are ,Morgaine mentioned on her blog a book Adams Curse by Brian Sykes Prof of genetics at oxford, what interests me is the y chromosone , it dose not change or blend through mating but remains the same. this is not about race as far as I know the y contains no genes to do with colour or physical type, but might it contain indicators for the type or intensity of masculinity? it would be a case of measure rather than nature (all mamalian masculinity seems similar in nature) but theres hot water that burns and hot water thats cmfortable, so degree might mean everything. 30.000 years ago there were Neanderthals and may have still been other hominids about,no doubt they had evolved different social systems maybe some as as patriarchcal as the chimpanzee which seem to me the worst in nature next to ours.could a small group of these have inter bread with a isolated group of us, remember all the other genes blend so in every way( given that we had the higher population) they would soon be indistinquisable from us, in fact they would be us except for the y .when one tribe invades another the incoming males kill most of the resident males ,one way for a rogue y to spread, another is courtship, could we women tell the difference. doubt it there would'nt be any . over time there would come a tipping point a mixture of our original y's and the infiltrators, feeding into the wranglings in Eygpt Morgaine highligted . I think when it all began we won the wars we because we had better technology and our men were not weak just principled, but the invaders had an endless enthusiasm for war and the advantage of enslaved women producing more children/soldiers than us, population verses progress, population won because progress can be stolen. But I believe like you that the Goddess is the first step in turning the tide ,along with feminism. Patriarchy makes people psycologically ill but it needs that illness to maintain it ,it causes child abuse but it needs it and its affects to maintain itself, ditto father God. If all women had real freedom of choice we would choose the fathers we want,some of us might even go to the mosuo and others and see if there realy is a difference in thier men however slight, and come back home and know that difference among our own men, its just another way of looking for Mr Right, of course every guy in the night club would come up with a line about how his ancestry stretched all the way back to the Himalayas. About the desert, an american explorer Byron khun De Prorok who discovered the tomb of queen Tin Hanan of the Tuaregs wrote a book ,slightly boys own in attitude ,called In Quest of lost Worlds, he describes the matriarchal Tauregs,then not far away in the desert the patriarchal town of siwa where they drop girl children of towers if there's to many , this expedition took place in the 1920's the book you recommend is on my reading list I wonder does he cover the Tauregs?.

Morgaine said...

I definitely think that a lot of the answers lie within the Y chromosome, which I believe to be a crippled X. Adam's Curse talks about the Y being a virtual grave yard of crippled chromosomes.

I'm interested in your theory, Ursa, about a mixed genetics being a factor. Do you have any sources for that?

Lisa, I don't know what you are upset about. You say you've read all the sources, but you question statements that seem obvious in that context. I recommended some books because I thought you hadn't read them. You get mad about that.

We don't have this all nailed down - we're working on the fine points.There are gaps in every evolutionary theory, but that doesn't mean the theory as a whole isn't sound. I really don't know what the problem is, unless it's just that you think we're wrong and are frustrated we don't agree with you. I can't speak for Athana, but I've been working on this a long time, and I've reached the conclusions I have for many reasons. I'll change my opinion if I see contradictory evidence, but you haven't provided any that I know of - my perception of the stage you're at is that you're in that PC 50/50 everybody-gets-a-say state of mind that most intellectuals have. I don't agree with it - I think it's a cop out. I'm not interested in anarchy or in a pure egalitarian system - they're unnatural and they won't work.

The only successful, peaceful societies are matriarchies. Do we need a new kind of matriarchy for this time and place - sure, but I'm quite convinced it will be a matriarchy, and not some other social order. I am becoming more and more convinced that men cannot be trusted with certain positions of power, and that there need to be societal structures to quell their aggression and greed. Athana thinks men in a matriarchy are sane. That seems to be the case in the Haudenosaunee culture, so maybe it's possible, but we are generations away from even considering that.

ursa said...

Morgaine thank you for your interest. I have no direct sources and must own the theory as mine but I think I could stand toe to toe on it sighting sources from life, like you I have spent a long time looking and years reading. Even lately here in the UK we have a similar situation with our little Ruddy ducks .Ducks From abroad have been introduced and amazingly are close enough to inbreed with the Ruddy's, the males of the incomers are slightly larger and are mating the females creating a new species the pure Ruddies are dying out .Also the Grey squirels coming to the UK have driven our native Reds to the fringes of the Country , though exactly why is not presently knowen. There are so many anomalies between males and females in our species that I couldn't begin to expound them here. Its like a jigsaw piece that has been forced.

ursa said...

Back to front ducks, the Ruddies came and mated the spanish white heads. straight facts important.