History

HISTORY,  HERSTORY, AND THE SPIRAL OF EVOLUTION

If history is written by the victors, then who wrote our history? If we are the result of our past, then what has brought humanity and the planet to their current crisis? Creation myths aside . . . given that human beings did not pop onto the scene ready-made but evolved into homo sapiens – “knowing humans” – we must remind ourselves that we are still evolving. What was our sphere of knowing in the past? And with our current knowledge, where are we headed?

Clunking around the Western mind are a couple strange bedfellows about our ancestry.  One view of history states that God our Father, the Omnipotent Creator, fashioned our planet and everything on it, and then made us in His image.  He lost His temper with us right away, however, and once Eve led Adam astray, the human race was doomed to the Herculean task of redeeming itself.  Our futile attempts are recorded in the Bible, which brings us up to recognizable eras through a detailed chain of “begats”.  What got dragged along through the ages was the need for a savior, a need most religions would meet.

Another view of history presents us with a time line that reaches back into a murky past when ape-men evolved into cavemen, who gnawed on roasted drumsticks and dragged their women around by the hair.  Some time later, they learned to make pottery to entertain future archaeologists, and then came up with the idea of civilization in time for the Classical Age of Ancient Greece.  From then on, our history books can give us the lists of wars, empires, kings, and discoveries right up to the present day.

Even if we are not Jewish or Christian, and we reject the Adam and Eve story as a folk tale, we nevertheless deal with its implications in our daily lives. In addition, the macho, barbaric caveman image also lays the groundwork upon which we have constructed our worldview. Justified by our historical perspective, we hold near and dear to us certain “givens” about our world and “human nature”. Examples include:

  • The good guys wear white and must defeat the evil forces of darkness.
  • Man has an innate inhumanity to man
  • Only the strong survive in this dog-eat-dog-world, because of the principle of survival of the fittest. Likewise, competition is the basis of a productive economy.
  • It is God’s will for the strong/rich to rule over the weak/poor. According to the Doctrine of the Elect, if God had wanted to favor the poor, he would have, so we should not favor them, either.
  • Men must use their God-given power to tame Nature.
  • To unlock spiritual mysteries, the Hero embarks on a quest, slaying demons along the way.
  • Women are the weaker/fairer/second sex.

It is, after all, a man’s world.

Venus and Her Lover looks at humanity primarily through the lens of the Masculine and Feminine Principles, which have the following associations:

 

 MASCULINE PRINCIPLE

FEMININE PRINCIPLE

 left brain

Culture

agency

active, resistance

individuality, autonomy

personhood

ranking

rights

skill

whole

Heaven

fire

outward

 right brain

Nature

communion

passive, yielding

relationship, membership

community

linking

responsibilities

instinct

part

Earth

water

inward

The above-listed characteristics are part of each human being (though we must recognize that males do tend to exhibit “masculine” traits more prominently than females do, and visa versa), and the same can be said for cultures. As the European joke goes: “Heaven is where the police are British, 
the chefs Italian, 
the mechanics German, 
the lovers French, 
and it’s all organized by the Swiss . . . Hell is where the police are German, 
the chefs are British, 
the mechanics French, 
the lovers Swiss, 
and it is all organized by the Italians!” Women and men have been free to demonstrate their natural talents across a wide range – or not! – according to boundaries placed by environmental stresses, economic means, population pressure, safety (or warfare), religious beliefs, available technology, and other factors.

The most influential factor, by far, for the status of women and men throughout history is the level of development of the culture in which they lived. The way a culture conceives of the world sets the parameters of personal behavior. There are always exceptions – both visionaries and sociopaths – but a society’s “center of gravity” will exert a pull on its members. The famous philosopher Socrates was killed by the State because he refused to accept the authority of Greek gods and goddesses. His rational mindset was subject to the center of gravity of mythic-minded Athens. He was ahead of his time, which is to say, ahead of his culture’s level of development.

We each have a personal story – whole unto itself – of our development, and all of our stories are part of the collective myth. Men and women, then, have evolved their roles within their cultures, which themselves have been evolving. The story of their strivings can only be told from a moving train.

Mother Goddess

Without the sense of the Great Mother operating through the process of birth-death-renewal, both the young and the old can become stuck in roles that cannot hold the entire imagination of human life. Part of the cultural oppression of women derives from the denial of the divine yet earthly, feminine force in the world.

-Michael Meade

Venus, the feminine force of love, is descended from a long line of revered goddesses. The mythologies of early cultures all tell of the Primal Mother, whose concern for the survival of her children led her to endow upon humanity the gifts of civilization, among them: the wheel, agriculture, pottery, language, weaving, art, math, and writing. So much of our history happened before recorded history, or was destroyed in warfare. Yet we know that ancient Greeks referred to an earlier “Golden Age” of the civilization that went before them. Merlin Stone, in When God was a Woman, notes that certain Sumerian words – farmer, plow, smith, weaver, potter, basketmaker – were not originally Sumerian but came from another (earlier?) language.

Most creation myths refer to the time of the Great Goddess, but then tell how she was replaced or demoted by the new God figure.  In ancient Egypt, the goddess Nut places the sun god Ra in the sky.  Nut’s daughter Isis, also called the Giver of Life and Queen Mother of Egypt, rules with her brother/ husband Osiris.  Later, pharaohs would wear royal crowns that bore the serpent, a common symbol of the goddess.  In India the goddess Diti (or Devi) is killed by the Aryan god Indra, who establishes a hierarchy for society known as the caste system.

Gaia and Birth of Erichtonius (470-460 BCE), Greek vase

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In Babylonia, the god Marduk murders the Creatress Tiamat.  In ancient Greece, the goddess Gaia is mother to Uranus, Father of the Universe.  Zeus (Roman Jupiter) becomes supreme ruler by castrating and killing his father Cronos (Saturn), Uranus´ son.

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In these and many other mythological tales, the symbols of the goddess are either demonized or co-opted by the new gods.  For example, the snake, a symbol of kundalini energy and the regenerative power of the Goddess, becomes a dragon or python that must be slain by the warrior hero (who carries his hard, sharp, penetrating sword).  Alternatively, the serpent is the purveyor of divine knowledge that will only bring punishment, as in the Garden of Eden.   In Arabia, Al-Lat, one of the holy trinity of Divine Mothers, was simply converted into the male Allah of Islam, and her symbol, the crescent moon, still appears on Islamic flags.  Many old symbols from Goddess times – the snake, moon, apple, pomegranate, olive, rose, lily, poppy, raven, dove, cat, scallop shell, water, down-pointing triangle and other geometric motifs – appear in the Venus and Her Lover paintings.  We present them as life-affirming images once again.

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Our History Before – Our “Pre” History

During the Upper Paleolithic Age (25,000 BCE), early humans were not just chipping away at arrowheads, they were sculpting “Venus figurines” in honor of Woman, from whom life mysteriously was born.  [Upon reading the previous sentence, did you envision the sculptors as cavemen or cavewomen?  In all likelihood, the early sculptors were women.]  In those prehistoric times, sex may not have been associated with childbirth due to the nine-month gestation period separating impregnation from birth.  This would have made women seem miraculous in their ability to produce children.  The Mother concept was also associated with the Earth.  From archaeological evidence at burial sites, it seems that our ancestors likened death to returning to the womb.  Many tomb complexes were fashioned in the large shape of a woman’s body, with the gravesites situated at the uterus of the figure.  Marija Gimbutas, in The Language of the Goddess, notes,  “Burial in the womb is analogous to a seed being planted in the earth, and it was therefore natural to expect new life to emerge from the old.”  [The Language of the Goddess, p.151].  Hence, people believed Woman possessed the mysteries of life and death.

At this time, our train of history was at the station called tribal. People had gathered together in bands to survive in the wild. The average lifespan was 20-30 years! [“Longevity & health in ancient Paleolithic vs. Neolithic peoples” by Ward Nicholson] As populations grew and coalesced into settlements, their drive to control Nature felled forests and killed animals, and would have been more destructive had they had better technology than axes and spears. While they lived very close to Nature, they did not have the reasoning ability to project into the future what the consequences of their actions might be. Instead, they tried to affect events through magic; petitioning animistic spirits through proper spells and prayers, and receiving answers through omens.

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Venus of Willendorf,
found in Austria
(24,000-22,000 BCE)
Photo: Matthias Kabel

In the productive sphere, women and men shared power equally as gatherers; in addition, men hunted, and women tended the children and the hearth. It was probably women who discovered they could sow seeds and encourage certain plants to grow, and thus developed horticulture, producing about 80% of the foodstuff. [Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, by Ken Wilber, p. 396]. The woman with her hoe enhanced her status as fertile provider for the family, without diminishing the role of the man with his spear. The human worldview was clan-centered and magical, and people celebrated rituals, dance, and music that bound them with each other and the spirits of Nature, the Great Mother Goddess, the ancestors, and sacred places and objects.

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Mother Goddess figure from Samarra (Mesopotamia, 6000 BCE)
Photo: PHGCOM

Goddess-worshipping peoples, in honoring the Earth, celebrated Creation in all its manifestations:  plants, animals, rivers, the human body, and the fertility that enlivened them.  The sacred was immanent in every living thing, and even supposedly inanimate objects – mountains, rocks, the sky – magically vibrated with life.  The pagan perspective, even to this day, values Gaia (Mother Earth) and all her children, and seeks to live fully while in the body, instead of putting spiritual realization off to some far-off Heaven after death.  Hence, sexuality – the ultimate expression of Creation in humans – is honored, and the wisdom of the body is trusted.  The pagan spiritual approach is one of descent; the focus is down here on Earth.

A continuous cultural evolution is noted in the Neolithic Age (7000-3500 BCE): villages thrived along rivers or other water sources, near pastures and fertile land. Communities cooperated in farming and developed specialized professions. Even with the Great Goddess as the primary deity, and property, name, and status passing from mother to child, the early societies appear to have been egalitarian, keeping a 50/50 balance of power. [Ken Wilber quoting the studies of Janet Chafetz in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p. 395]. Riane Eisler, in her book, The Chalice and the Blade, calls these partnership societies, with a gylanic ideology. Gylany refers to a system based not on ranking, but on linking women ( Greek root “gy-”) and men (Greek root “andro”). Civilizations flourished in our prehistory, though our schoolbooks dismiss Goddess cultures as mere “fertility cults”.

Marija Gimbutas drew conclusions about early Goddess-worshipping, partnership societies that rocked archaeology in the 1970’s.  She said,  “We can clearly make a statement:  Old Europe is a peaceful culture without weapons.  In the whole archaeological record, starting from the Paleolithic times, from the cave art, there are no scenes of people fighting each other . . . no groups of people fighting each other.”  [Signs out of Time]  Some scholars have challenged her conclusions, since subsequent archaeological discoveries (and reinterpretation of previous ones) have yielded examples of skeletons with weapon trauma, fortifications, and artistic depictions of conflict.  Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit, in their book, The Origins of War – Violence in Prehistory, note,  “New skills acquired during the Neolithic, the new Stone Age, may well have led to the cultivation of plants and the domestication of certain species of animal.  However, these beneficial changes were accompanied by highly detrimental developments such as warfare.”  [The Origins of War – Violence in Prehistory, p.25]  It does not yet seem to be widespread, as history professor William J. Hamblin points out:  “Overall, however, such archaeological evidence is quite sparse for periods before the late Neolithic.  Warfare clearly existed, but there is no evidence to show it was endemic.”   [Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 –  Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History, p. 15]

The fact that our ancestors lived cooperatively in our history has inspired some to yearn for that past simplicity and relative peace.  Ken Wilber cautions against unwarranted nostalgia for the “noble savage”, reminding us that partnership culture was not established by conscious choice, “but rather by luck and happenstance in the biosphere:  it was the product of a hoe, not a mutual recognition.”  [SES, p. 474]

People of the Sword

According to eco-feminist theories, the egalitarian nature of Neolithic cultures changed with the invasion of semi-nomadic pastoralists from the steppes of eastern Europe and Asia, beginning in 4300 BCE. It is speculated they were forced to flee their homeland as a result of environmental degradation (perhaps due to overgrazing), population pressure, or an inhospitable change of weather. Generally named “Indo-Europeans”, the invaders were called Aryans in India, Hittites in Mesopotamia, Luwians in Anatolia, Kurgans in eastern Europe, and Achaeans (and later Dorians) in Greece. Culturally related to them were the Semites, desert pastoralists from the south, who invaded Canaan. In India, the Aryan Invasion scenario is disputed with the claim that the native Indus Valley civilization, disrupted by environmental changes, evolved into a very different culture on its own. Whether the new culture was driven by invasion or evolution, what is dead sure is that they were not gardeners but stockbreeders and hunters, who made hilltop fortresses or seasonal settlements following game, and organized themselves hierarchically along patrilineal lines. They worshipped warrior gods bearing lightning, for light from the sky was preferable to dark from the earth (or perhaps their whiter skin preferable to the darker peoples they conquered). Riane Eisler describes them as a dominator culture and their social structure as an androcracy in which men rule over those “below” them by force or the threat of force. Sound familiar?

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Standard of Ur, mosaic, (2500 BCE) Mesopotamia

The First Agricultural Revolution

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Plowing farmer,
mural from the burial chamber of Sennedjem,
Egypt (1200 BCE)
Source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei

Around this time (3000 BCE in Mesopotamia and Egypt), another monumental development changed history forever: the invention of the plow. Drawn by oxen or horses, the plow brought much bigger plots of land into production, generating more abundant yields, and then surpluses, which led to greater division of labor. It was probably men, with their knowledge of metallurgy and beasts of burden, who developed the plow. Since the plow necessitated greater physical strength and put the fields at some distance from home, men went out to work every day, and women chose to stay home. Even though a pregnant woman could still tend the garden (horticulture) with a digging stick or hoe, she would have risked miscarriage or neglect of her children if she had taken up the plow (agriculture).

The shift from the Copper Age to the Bronze Age (3500-2500 BCE) brought better hoes and axes to the horticulturists of Old Europe and sharper swords and spears to the pastoralists. By the time of the Iron Age (1500 BCE), the use of the plow was widespread, and the warrior peoples were famous for their sharp blades; perhaps the Aryans even derived their name from the word “iron”.

They brought forth hierarchical organizational ability and innovation, as the village structure allowed craftspeople to further specialize, which encouraged trading. During this time, people still honored the Great Earth Mother and followed the old partnership traditions, but the sky gods were on the rise.

How to unify such diverse peoples?  No longer could common ancestors be claimed, nor kin lineages with particular sacred spots of land.  So humans went trans-tribal, and it was mythology that allowed them to do so.  Now dissimilar peoples could direct their allegiance to common gods and goddesses, who needed to be placated through offerings and the earthly ruler that the gods selected.  Society pulled together, each one fulfilling his or her proper role according to the hierarchical rules – divinely laid down by the Higher Authority – which insured order and stability and pleased the gods.  The “chosen people” could rest assured that their god(s) would guide them along the one, true path; those that believed otherwise might just as well “go to hell”.  That is how life looks to the ethnocentric, mythic mindset.

With the Agricultural Revolution, the number one rule of the biosphere was set in stone:  Biology is destiny.  Men went out to work in the productive, public sphere; women stayed at home tending the reproductive, family sphere.  During times of danger, men could defend the homestead or village, especially if they called upon the support of sword-wielding warrior gods.  It was then a small step for the ranking mentality of men to value the Masculine over the Feminine.  Enter thePatriarchy.

Might Makes Right

so it won’t screw up the present.

-Regina Brett

From daily customs to overarching philosophies, Goddess societies were transformed by the Patriarchy.  In the Near East, the Levite warrior-priesthood promoted meat-eating and animal sacrifice through stories such as that of the brothers Cain and Abel.  The Hebrew God Yahweh favored Abel’s offering of a slaughtered animal over Cain’s offering of grain.  During times of upheaval, the biosphere favors physical might, and male testosterone took the lead.  Filled with the righteousness of their myths, men charged ahead with their natural action-based strengths, right over the cliff into pathology – in other words, into repression.  Women’s rights, once 50/50 with men’s, now headed toward zero.  The authority of the Great Mother Goddess was challenged.

Those of us raised on Bible stories knew about this, although we never heard the word “goddess” or “matrifocal culture”.   We do know, for example, that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho . . . and the walls came a-tumbling down!”  Not only Jericho – for town after town fell, as is recorded in the Book of Joshua.  For example, Joshua 8:24:      “When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.

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Cain murders Abel,
in detail from Ghent Altarpiece
by Jan van Eyck (1432, Belgium)

And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai.  For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched his javelin, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.  Only the cattle and the spoils of that city Israel took as their booty, according to the word of the Lord which He commanded Joshua.  So Joshua burned Ai, and made it forever a heap of ruins. . .”

Disempowering the Goddess

Matrilineal succession presented a problem to the patriarchs of a newly-installed dominator society.  According to tradition, the high priestess held the divine right to the throne.  As the Goddess of Fertility’s earthly manifestation, the priestess chose a consort, and celebrated sacred sexual rites with him.  This cyclical hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, was believed to insure the well-being of the agrarian community as well as the individuals in it.  After the marriage, the young lover (or son) of the Goddess (or priestess) was ritually sacrificed in the autumn, but she resurrected him in the spring.  The resurrection myths of Isis and Osiris, Inanna and Dumuzi, and Ishtar and Tammuz underscore the fact that the Goddess legitimized the reign of the king.  Obviously the new leaders had to subvert this system, which they did, by expropriating goddess symbols and rituals to justify the king’s authority.

Vilifying the feminine component of society impoverished the culture in countless ways, for priests and priestesses of the Great Mother kept not only the hieros gamos cycle, but myriad others.  Perhaps due to women’s internal clocks (menses, pregnancy, lactation), they were acutely aware of the moon’s cycles and seasonal rhythms.  Men and women in partnership cultures upheld tribal rituals and lifeways that were in resonance with the greater cycles of Nature, thereby keeping civilization grounded in an Earth-based reality (as opposed to a mental, doctrinaire reality).  One consequence of the Neolithic triumph of language, which allowed more complex thinking, was that the magical conception of time, with its focus on the present moment and cyclical repetition, shifted to the mythic/rational-minded concept of linear time.  Now death clearly awaited all at the end of the line, and mythic beliefs and morality addressed the fear of it.  We have been dancing with our dread of death ever since.

 

The Feminine Principle, with its impulses for cooperation, communication, and caretaking, might have balanced the Masculine drive to survive, and pointed civilization in the direction of peaceful co-creation, instead of warring competitions.  Be that as it may, with growing populations under the laws of the biosphere, evolution favored the warrior, the farmer, and the king.  As more and more aspects of the Masculine Principle took precedence over the Feminine Principle, the dominator system erected civilization with its impressive ingenuity and accomplishments, upon the bloody corpses of women’s – and men’s – tender sensibilities.

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Sacred marriage bed
(of Dumuzi & Inanna?)
(2000-1600 BCE), clay plaque, Mesopotamia

Mommy Dearest

There is also a school of thought that holds that some pre-literate societies were actual matriarchies – with women ruling over men – and that the high priestess, doing the bidding of her goddess, selected men for a blood sacrifice.  In addition to human sacrifice, according to sociologist Gerhard Lenski (Human Societies, 1970, as quoted in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p. 474), pre-agricultural tribal societies engaged in frequent warfare, slavery, and private property rights.  Greek myths tell of warring Amazon women who did away with the need for men in their tribes, seeking them for use in procreation only.  Such fierce warriors were they, the ancient Greeks said, that they removed their right breast to better shoot their bow and arrow.  Could the Patriarchy have risen up to correct the injustices of abusive matriarchies?

This seems unlikely, given that the evidence indicates that survivalist hunters and gatherers were fairly egalitarian, as were the horticultural-magical-tribal societies that followed them.  While they were certainly grounded in the physical realities of the biosphere, it was not until the mythic agriculturalists came on the scene, with the unwieldy plow and shifting social circumstances, that women retreated from the public work force.  Men became the primary breadwinners and defenders of the home.  It was with agriculture that partnership values took a tumble.

This is not to say that the Feminine Principle cannot go pathological, also, at any stage of evolution. In fact, in tribal societies, it is not usual for independent thinking and autonomous action (“masculine” values) to have to submit (“feminine” value) “for the good of the tribe.” Taboos, traditions, ritual symbols, and kinship ties must be respected. While not the patriarchal style of violent “power over” underlings, it is not personal freedom, either. Psychologist Claudio Naranjo, in his book, The End of Patriarchy, makes the distinction clear: “It is not through individual domination that power has expressed itself in mother-centered communities, but through group tyranny – a mentality in which the individual is entirely devoured through its bond with the community.” He calls it “the inner dominance of the mother principle.” [The End of Patriarchy, p.23] From this perspective, human sacrifice takes on a new meaning; it becomes the ultimate surrender of individuality to the group.

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Mother Goddess flanked by lions from çatal Höyük,
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, (Neolithic, Turkey)
Photo: Roweromaniak via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic License

While men and women enjoyed a 50/50 equality of social status in the Great Goddess tribes, their shared mindset likely leaned toward fusion and dissociation – the pathological Feminine. Taking this possibility into account, the move to a mythic, ethnocentric worldview allowed the individual to stake out some autonomy. With roles more specifically delineated, both men and women could contribute to the greater good of the village, the town, or the city-state . . . which grew into the classical civilizations.

Who Created the Creator?

Our beliefs become our thoughts.  Our thoughts become our words.  Our words become our actions.  Our actions become our habits.  Our habits become our values.  Our values become our destiny!

– Mahatma Gandhi

To digress for a moment: much of the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim belief in a one-and-only Father God may have been based on a misunderstanding. In the very beginning scriptures of the Torah, Old Testament, and Qur’ān, they describe Creation as the work of the Elohim, which is a plural word.

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“In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). By Genesis 1:26-27, when they get around to creating humans, they make them in their likeness, “male and female they created them.” The creator gods later intermarry with humans: “the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives… ,” (Genesis 6:2) In most Christian Bibles, the word Elohim (plural, male and female) has been replaced by the word God (singular, male). The original equal creation concept of the Elohim certainly is in alignment with the symbol of the Jewish faith, the Star of David, which illustrates the interpenetration and balance of the masculine and feminine principles.

This tantric symbolism originated in India, where the hexagram denoted the perpetual sexual union of the goddess Kali/Shakti and the god Shiva, only to enter Judaism much, much later (via medieval Kabbalists) as the union of the feminine Shekina with the masculine Yahweh. [The Women’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, p. 69]

In addition, what current Christian Bibles now call the LORD (in capital letters) originated as the unutterable Hebrew name of God, YHWH, which for the sake of uttering, becomes Yahweh. Throughout the scriptures, however, references to YHWH talk about the “Four Faces of the Divine”, depicted as a pyramid with its associated sacred letters/sounds/numbers. In Greek, YHWH translates as Tetragrammaton (“four words”). The stories of Moses and the tribes of Israel’s exploits from Egypt to the Promised Land (Canaan) describe the LORD/YHWH/Tetragrammaton as being associated with the Ark of the Covenant, and an alternate reading of scripture gives the impression that there is a sacred object – not a god nor tablets – in the Ark that they carry around.

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Replacing the word LORD, Exodus 13:21 reads thus: “And the Tetragrammaton went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light . . .” In 2 Samuel 6:7, a man named Uzzah is helping to transport the Ark: “The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the Ark. So he died there. . .” Because several Hebrews got too close to it and were killed suddenly, as if by electric shock, Moses tells his people they must fear it. Oh, what a difference one word makes! “Fear the Tetragrammaton!” (an energy-producing apparatus that could deliver a deadly shock) Or . . . “Fear the LORD!” (the divine being that created you). Seeing the Ark as a powerful device explains how the “LORD” stopped the waters of the River Jordan so the Israelites could cross (Joshua 3-4), and destroyed the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). In Crossing the Event Horizon – Rise to the Equation DVD, scientist Nassim Haramein makes a compelling case that Moses surreptitiously left Egypt with a piece of technology that had anti-gravitational powers (able to build pyramids with 50-ton blocks, or part the waters of the Red Sea), and had to be kept in a gold-covered Ark box (a capacitor), and later, in the greatest temple of Biblical times, the Temple of Solomon. It is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that is now hotly contested real estate among Jews (the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested), Muslims (where Kings David and Solomon reigned and Mohammed ascended to heaven, and now home to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque), and Christians (in addition to Kings David and Solomon, Jesus prayed there).

Incidentally, with Yahweh the Father being the supreme deity and represented by one up-pointing pyramid, we have an unbalanced view of a polarized Universe, since the “feminine”, down-pointing pyramid is not part of the picture.

Whether the god of the Torah, Old Testament, and Qur’ān was originally sacred sounds, a group of more advanced beings, or an ancient Egyptian technology is surely debatable.  What we know for certain is that the editors and translators of those holy books ultimately arrived at the same concept:  a masculine deity known for violence, strict obedience, and swift anger . . . someone to be feared, or else!  In other words, the LORD, Yahweh, and Allah were the perfect kingpins to preside over the entire dominator paradigm.

The Axial Age

The wheel of change moves on, and those who were down go up and those who were up go down.

– Jawaharlal Nehru

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Temptation & Fall
(detail from Sistine Chapel, Rome, 1509-1510)
by Michelangelo

Whether by territorial conquests begun over 5000 years ago by the Indo-Europeans, or the social reorganization prompted by the Agricultural Revolution, the patriarchal mentality reached a psychological victory by the time of Pythagoras in Greece and the Buddha in India. Around 600 BCE, there occurred what Joseph Campbell called The Great Reversal. Campbell selected quite an appropriate title for this historical watershed if we put it in the context of the ascending and descending currents of spirituality: the human strategy for salvation did a U-turn from a focus on Earth (Descent) to a devotion to Heaven (Ascent). What a change! Whereas the Earth Mother could enfold the community to her bosom, the sky gods offered the strength necessary to toil the land and defend it. As eyes turned ever more heavenward, what had been associated with the Earth – the body, Nature, and Woman – fell into disgrace. With the Great Reversal (also called the Axial Age), they became sins that needed to be denied, repressed, tamed . . . or destroyed. When Eve gave Adam the apple (as the story goes), Woman became the symbol for evil – a powerful sexual temptation to noble men trying to stay on the holy path of Ascent.

Jamake Highwater, in Myth and Sexuality, describes the Axial Age thus: “The prevailing world view shifted from an affirmation of life to a negation of life, from the expectation of reward, comfort, and innocence to the acceptance of punishment, discomfort, and guilt. The Great Reversal was an epic moment in history, when a negative conception of destiny arose that would eventually be symbolized by that Original Sin which makes pain and punishment an implacable aspect of Western life.”

Joseph Campbell, in The Masks of God:  Creative Mythology, says, “Life became known as a fiery vortex of delusion, desire, violence, and death, a burning waste.”  These concepts saturated our psyches so completely that today men and women alike accept them as normal or human nature.  In general, our society values light over dark, pain over pleasure, ranking over linking, competition over cooperation, male over female, and Ascent over Descent.  Nature must be conquered, tamed, and reformed.

The Great Reversal sealed the downfall of women’s rights.   Then, with the advent of rational thought, the polarization of the sexes could be intellectually justified.  Ancient Greco-Roman society clearly demarcated the public and private spheres.  The State, duly glorified for its rule of law and ideas of justice, based its power on the stability of its households, where men held decision-making rights and women the administrative responsibilities.

POLIS (public state)

OIKOS (private household)

male

outdoor

mobile

civilized

 female

indoor

stationary

natural

While both spheres of influence were valued, one was clearly superior. It was men who exercised the rights of the citizen, who upheld Culture, and who could move about with freedom. With the exception of a few who were wealthy or legally emancipated, women knew their place and kept to it. Classical writers extolled the virtues of Woman: chastity, silence, and obedience. (Compare those to male virtues: courage, justice, and self-mastery). [When Women Were Priests, p. 115] In a patrilineal society (where wealth and status pass through male heirs), a woman’s chastity and/or monogamy must be defended; hence her confinement to the house, where her purity – and dependence – could be preserved. Men, on the other hand, were sexual free agents, and their outside affairs with courtesans, prostitutes, and slaves, only underscored the danger posed by uncontrolled sexuality. Professor Karen Jo Torjesen tells us, “Greek and Roman males, who projected onto women their anxiety about keeping their libido under control, believed that the ‘animality’ of women would disturb the rational process of the public sphere.” [When Women Were Priests, p. 122]

The poster boys of the Axial Age have names we recognize, since they developed philosophies that are still in use today. As teachers of rational philosophy who blazed the trail for subsequent civilization, they made inroads into the tight loyalties of the mythic order, but in terms of gender relations, Reason knelt before the altars of politics and mythology. The chain of classical thought that passed from Socrates (469-399 BC) to Plato (428-348 BCE) to Aristotle (384-322 BCE) advanced logic, scientific investigation, ethics, and politics. It also culminated in Aristotle’s view of the inherent inequality of humans: masters, by nature, rule over slaves, just as men, by nature, rule over women. He states, in Ethics: “Man is the master, as is right and proper, and manages everything that it falls to him to do as head of the house. But whatever can be suitably performed by the wife he hands over to her.” (Ethics, p.247). To Plato’s credit, he envisioned a rational republic that included female – as well as male – “guardians”, but for Aristotle, men should show “courage of command” and women “courage of obedience”. [When Women Were Priests, p. 121]

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Engraving (detail),
after The Death of Socrates (1787)
by Jacques-Louis David
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Jeremiah the Prophet,
16th century engraving

As the Great Reversal rumbled across the Mediterranean, the “Later Prophets” of the Old Testament railed at the early Hebrews to repent of their timeworn ways and conform to dominator law.  Isaiah  (700’s BCE) told them to abandon the sacred groves of the Goddess:  “But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.  For you shall be ashamed of the oaks in which you delighted, and you shall blush for the gardens which you have chosen.”  (Isaiah 1:28-29).   He threatened women not to wear “finery of the anklets . . . the crescents [a Goddess symbol], the pendants, the bracelets, the amulets . . . the festal robes”  (Isaiah 3:18-23).

“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet; the Lord will smite with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.”  (Isaiah 3:16-17).   Jeremiah (650-570 BCE) warned people that if they did not stop honoring the goddess Asherah (Ashtoreth) that God’s vengeance would come in the form of a Babylonian invasion.  “Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and women knead dough, to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger . . .  Therefore . . . Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.”  (Jeremiah 7:17-20).  As it turned out, he was right about the Babylonian invasion part.    Ezekial also harangued his listeners about the divine punishment their sins would elicit from Yahweh.  “Now the end is upon you, and I will let loose my anger upon you, and I will judge you according to your ways; and I will punish you for all your abominations.  And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity; but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.”  (Ezekiel 7:3-4).  “Abominations” was a code word for traditional practices associated with the Goddess:  her worship in temples and groves, sexual and fertility rites, women free to make their own decisions.  Oh, those terrible pagans!

The reason the people of Judah industriously sought favor from their goddess Asherah was because they were suffering under the new dominator regime and desperately wished for former times  “ . . . for then we had plenty of food, and were well off, and saw no misfortune.  But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and the famine.”  (Jeremiah 44:17-18).   Originally, Asherah was worshipped alongside Yahweh as Goddess and God, until the sixth century BCE, when Yahweh gained ascendency, riding the new wave of the Great Reversal.  [Awakening the Soul, by Bill Missett, p. 287]

Out of the Hebrew tradition would later rise two other world religions:  Christianity and Islam. The story in Genesis 17 relates how Yahweh made a covenant with Abraham, who is considered the Father of the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim peoples.  Yahweh promised the land of Israel to Abraham’s descendants, provided that they be circumcised.  The strangeness of this prerequisite aside, the ritual cutting of the foreskin, it should be noted, absolutely ruled out girls from participating in the covenant with God. The three faiths were “religions of the book” that sought salvation through Ascent.  Transcending earthly realities brought the believer to higher spiritual truths.  In their rush to get to Heaven, the Ascenders condemned anything that smacked of Descent, so they had to deny Creation, with its messy Nature, physical bodies, sexual impulses, animal instincts, and evil temptations.  And because this upward thrust of spirituality took place during the Patriarchy, the epitome of sin became Woman.

The Axial Age differentiated many opposites, but taken too far, they fell into dissociation and alienation.  At that time, Zoroaster (Zarathustra, 628-551 BCE) founded a monotheistic religion in Persia that portrayed the conflict between Ahura Mazda (God, good, light) and Angra Mainyu (the Devil, evil, dark).  For the mythic mind, clear distinctions between right and wrong – it is either black or white! – allow the authority in power to dispense with any shades of gray.   After death there is judgment, and then either Heaven or Hell.  Nature – which includes the body, sexual impulses, and seasonal cycles – is inherently corrupt.  Only by following laws and purifying oneself can the follower be redeemed.  It must be emphasized here that these ideas flew in the face of the earlier tribal partnership cultures that had trusted the wisdom of Nature and their own natural desires.  Zoroastrianism’s tenets would show up much later in the early Christian Church, as the Apostle Paul established the dichotomies his flock would have to wrestle with:  the flesh vs. spirit, obedience vs. sin, good vs. evil.

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Symbol of Zoroastrianism
by Kevin McCormick

The Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, 563-483 BCE) recognized the painful trials and temptations of life as samsara, the world of illusion, and discovered a transcendental path to liberation through mindfulness, meditation, study, and simplicity. His realizations, later organized into a rational philosophy called Buddhism, continue to aid millions of adherents in their spiritual liberation.

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Gautama Buddha’s 1st sermon in Deer Park,
painting at Wat Chedi Liem, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Photo by Kay Ess
image031
Confucius,
Chinese sage

The Buddha, nonetheless, was an ascender who denied Descent. Since Siddhartha Gautama saw pleasure and desire as fatal steps to worldly attachment, and women as the embodiment of desire, he recommended celibacy. “From lust springs grief,” he said (Dhammapada 16:5). Even though he had begun his quest from hedonistic circumstances – a pampered prince who reveled in women and courtly pleasures – he discounted his first step, feeling that the mind clouded by passions stayed bogged down in samsara. He refused to ordain women disciples, until finally relenting to allow his devoted stepmother to found the first order of nuns. So even the Awakened One, while emphasizing compassion, equality, love, and karmic justice, based his whole quest for enlightenment on the premise of a dangerous, corrupt world. Life in this world is one of suffering, and birth (through a woman, of course) is the cause of suffering. The whole point of life is to get out of it – detach from the ego and its illusions (including bodily pleasures) and attain nirvana, a state of complete non-existence. Theravada Buddhism, the earliest and most conservative branch of the philosophy, denies that enlightenment can be attained in a woman’s body, equating the Feminine with earthly indulgence. As the Jataka Tales assert: women can never have enough “intercourse, adornment, and childbearing.” [Jataka III.342] Although Buddhism provides the follower with a functional methodology to attain peace – the ascending path, after all, does allow the aspirant to detach from worldly entanglements – it implies a fundamental distrust of Nature and motherhood.

Confucius (K’ung Fu-Tzu, 551-479 BCE), in line with the Axial Age thinkers, valued Culture – teaching the importance of education, human-heartedness (ren), righteous character, and hierarchical order. The family is the model for the state; the father rules over the mother and children, who in turn defer to him. From The Sayings of Confucius: “Only women and Petty Man are hard to have around the house. If you become close to them, they turn non-compliant. If you keep them at a distance, they turn resentful.” (Chapter 17, “Yang Hu”, #23, p. 114). Unlike Taoism, the other great philosophy out of China, which sought cosmic truths through alignment with Nature, Confucianism promoted methods of discipline and control, for the betterment of Culture.

These great thinkers of the Axial Age came out of mythic-minded, agricultural patriarchies whose separation of gender roles allowed them to devote themselves to contemplation.  The women always had to get the kids’ dinner on the table.  They were men of their time, which we must consider, since we are people of our time.  These philosophers surrounded themselves with male disciples and did not maintain stable relationships with women.  Plato never married, calling women “petty and cowardly”; Jeremiah renounced women when, as a teenager, he answered the Lord’s call; the Buddha lost his mother at birth and abandoned his wife and son for his quest; and Confucius divorced his wife after four years and thereafter avoided women.  Even if these monumental men propounded eternal truths and wisdom, the philosophical systems they established disdain the Feminine.  This could be due to their own biases or to the prejudices of their male disciples and scribes.  It is no secret that traditional science, Orthodox Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam, Theravada/Hinayana Buddhism, and Confucianism are sexist domains.  At best, they overemphasize “male” values (logic, the abstract, Culture over Nature), and at worst they are misogynous, narrow, and damningly pessimistic about life and human nature.  Their otherworldly quest for ultimate wisdom and union with the Divine, while indubitably valid, did so by repudiating this world, Gaia, our existence in bodies, and the Divine Feminine.  For 2,600 years, since the Great Reversal, we have been following their lead.  We have been living in a “man’s world”, and single-mindedly aspiring for the “next world”.  Our modern intellects may accept this fact, but what happens when we turn up secret emotions or visceral reactions to ourselves as sexual beings?  Where do we place our domination/submission fantasies, or our turn-on with whips and chains?  [I am not saying here that the use of leather or chains in consensual sexual play is inherently depraved, but that it has typically been used to inflict domination and pain on the unwilling – usually female – recipient].  We may not want to admit that we were “wired” by a perverse culture.  This denial, as well as the denial of the grand panorama of our male/female/sexual natures, only deepens the perversity.  Our refusal to acknowledge the past does not mean we have escaped it.

Our discussion of the dominance of “masculine” values (independence, action, agency) should not be taken as male-bashing, or as disparaging the beneficial accomplishments of the Patriarchy.  For example, our cognitive development has only been improving over the years, to which our vast bank of scientific knowledge and ever-advancing technology attests.  During the Agrarian Age, human life expectancy was 35 years; now in the post-Industrial Age, we have doubled our longevity to 70 years!  We owe much to Greek – and later, Enlightenment – philosophers for the establishment of Reason and democratic ideals, the very basis of modern governments.  The “masculine” perception of separation and drive for freedom eventually won universal rights (freedoms of speech, assembly, the press, voting) in many modern societies.  In addition, one must always consider that the application of “masculine” values can happen at a low level of development (“I can assert my individuality and rights in a selfish, ego-centric way”), or at progressively higher stages of development (“I assert rights for everyone and will defend the principles of justice”).  The reign of the Patriarchy has advanced civilization on many fronts, but because it has been at the expense of “feminine” values, we are suffering the consequences of this imbalance on a planetary scale.

Whatever the causal events that led up to the Great Reversal, the fact we must face is that we have not been told the whole human story.  And such skullduggery has led us astray.  It is important to re-examine our history to understand our place – as men, women, and hurt children – in the long tale of human evolution.

Left Right Out of Balance

When we inquire into the origins of human civilization, we look back at recorded history for the story.  The 20,000-or-so-year reign of the Great Goddess is news to most of us because it happened primarily in pre-literate cultures, before recorded history.  Leonard Shlain, in his book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, proposes that the main event that toppled the Earth Mother was not the invading hunters from the east and north, nor the Agricultural Revolution with its attendant disputes over private property and surplus wealth.  It was a development withinearly agrarian societies:  literacy.  A vascular surgeon by profession, Shlain explains that the left hemisphere of the brain processes abstract, linear, analytical information – such as the written word.  Directing the right (spear-throwing) hand, it is concerned with doing, and is referred to as the “masculine” realm of the hunter-killer instinct.  The right hemisphere, on the other side, processes the big picture, intuitive clues, imagery, and music. It is concerned with being, and is referred to as the “feminine” realm of the gatherer-nurturer instinct.  We all have both sides of the brain, but with the onset of writing, the male, left brain took precedence, with its domineering, rigid, hunter-killer tendencies.  Shlain writes, “Goddess worship, feminine values, and women’s power depend on the ubiquity of the image.  God worship, masculine values, and men’s domination of women are bound to the written word.  Word and image, like masculine and feminine, are complementary opposites.

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Moses Smashing the Tables of the Law (1866)
by Gustave Doré

Whenever a culture elevates the written word at the expense of the image, patriarchy dominates.  When the importance of the image supersedes the written word, feminine values and egalitarianism flourish.” [The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p.7].  So important was the (“masculine”) Word that when Moses delivered the Ten Commandments, the Second Commandment prohibited making any likeness of anything.  It says:  “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”  Breaking this law would result in  “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. . .”  He was serious:  NO ART!  (This was later mercifully repealed by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century.  Thanks, Greg, for arrogantly tampering with a commandment – without which Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, and even Bertrand would never have seen the light of day.)  So Rule #2 was preceded only by the First Commandment, the prohibition of other gods.  It says:  “You shall have no other gods before me.” In other words:  Goodbye Goddess!  Yahweh’s penchant for control reveals his top priorities.  He did not get around to outlawing murder until Commandment Six.  According to Islam, Allah was less severe than Yahweh on this count but still prohibited art of living things.  Such art trespassed on Allah’s domain as sole Creator.  The religions of the book (Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Calvinism, Lutheranism) as well as the ideologies of the book (Marxism, Mao Zedong’s Communism) took intolerance, misogyny, and brutality to extremes, as their blood-soaked histories attest.

 

Dr. Shlain’s theory is compelling, especially when overlaid on to history – in particular, what happened to women’s status and human rights in general, subsequent to literacy entering a society.  He states, “the thug who mugged the Goddess was alphabet literacy.”  [The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p.432]  In the first millennium BCE, the Hebrew alphabet developed, making the Semites the first people to become substantially literate.  As the Old Testament passages above indicate, Goddess worship and women’s rights soon fell – at the edge of a sword.  The Greeks, the second literate culture, could boast that one in three people were slaves, women were de facto slaves, and war was a glorious pursuit.  The Roman Empire continued in the same vein as the Greeks, spreading literacy to nearly all its citizens under the Pax Romana.  The Alphabet Versus the Goddess makes the point that in all these great cultures, the shift from Goddess and feminine reverence was marked by a sudden emphasis on the left hemisphere of the brain.  “Literacy depends on linear, sequential, abstract and reductionist ways of thinking – the same as hunting and killing.” [http://www.alphabetvsgoddess.com/timeline.html]

With the fall of the Roman Empire (officially in 476 CE), Europe eventually settled into medieval times, also called the Dark Ages because of, for one thing, the end of widespread literacy.  In this illiterate darkness, however, there arose among Europeans a widespread worship of the Virgin Mary – through her image, not her writings – with many a cathedral dedicated to Notre Dame (Our Lady).  While kings and popes continued to rule severely, common people honored women mystics (such as Hildegard von Bingen in Germany and Teresa de Avila in Spain), and the code of chivalry elevated the Feminine.  Their spiritual practice, ostensibly Christian, was still largely grounded in the pagan perspective.

In China, Taoism and Confucianism – which Shlain associates with Mother Nature and Father Culture, respectively – coexisted for over 1000 years.  In 923 CE, the Chinese invented the printing press, which soon disseminated texts throughout the kingdoms.  Confucianism soared in popularity, and the remaining Taoists organized themselves more patriarchally, with a temple hierarchy, written texts, and celibate priests.  In 970, the practice of foot-binding – which essentially crippled women in order to make them “sexy” – began, eventually becoming a common practice.

Gutenberg made his printing press in 1450, spreading literacy from European palaces and monasteries down through the masses.  In its wake, science, philosophy, the arts – and imperialism – surged.  The 15th and 16th centuries saw religious wars, massacres, and the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (70 million in 300 years!).  [The Alphabet versus the Goddess, p. 341]  In 1478 the Inquisition was established in Spain, though it had been waging its reign of terror in different parts of Europe since the 13th century, and it targeted witches (formerly the sainted mystics), imagery (especially images of Mary), and any deviation from official religious dogma.  The mass psychosis embodied in the Inquisition, which murdered between 100,000 to millions, was not seen in bordering countries (Russia, Norway, the Islamic Empire), where the printing press had not had a wide impact.  Russia would not become literate until the 19th century, and Shlain points out that soon afterward, the country descended into the brutal violence of the pogroms against Jews and the totalitarianism of Communism.

 

The Alphabet versus the Goddess concludes with hopeful news.  Since the 19th century, with the dissemination of the image (photography, film, television) and the engaging of both hands (and both brain hemispheres) to use the computer (with its mix of words and imagery), we have seen a rise in human rights (of slaves, women, children, minorities), environmental movements, and campaigns of caring (health care, childcare, accommodation of people with disabilities).  The right and left sides of the brain, each with its purview of “masculine” and “feminine” talents, have been coming into balance, much to the benefit of modern society.  In Shlain’s words:  “In the beginning was the image.  Then came five millennia dominated by the written word . . .  I’m convinced we are entering a new Golden Age – one in which the right-hemispheric values of tolerance, caring, and respect for nature will begin to ameliorate the conditions that have prevailed for the too-long period during which left-hemispheric values were dominant.”  [Alphabet versus the Goddess, p.432]

Evolution’s M.O.

Even a positive thing casts a shadow – its unique excellence is at the same time its tragic flaw.

– William Irwin Thompson

Evolution is a process.  Something emerges, realizing its own identity by differentiating itself from its former existence.  It expands until it hits its limits, which causes growth, which leads to transcendence and a new synthesis.  The new emergent both negates and preserves its previous essence:  it carries forward something of what it was before but expresses itself in a totally new way.

The Hegelian dialectic (developed by German philosophers Kant, Fichte, and Hegel):

(1)  Thesis –>

(2)  Antithesis –>

(3)   Synthesis

In the stages of human development, each new understanding emerges in response to a given set of life conditions, in order to solve its problems.  Thus the new stage improves upon the former one, only to eventually bump up against its own problems and contradictions (antithesis, differentiation), thereby engendering the next level of consciousness (synthesis, integration).  We can make such general statements about the center of gravity of different cultures throughout history.  When people of magic consciousness faced a problem of survival in the face of overwhelmingly wild Nature, they solved it by forging clan bonds for safety and developing rituals to deal with the nature spirits.  As the social system grew, the mythic mindset arose to impose order, and a hierarchy of gods and goddesses gave diverse peoples a way to belong together.

As evolutionary change plays out, the initial emergence is one of welcome change (“Eureka!”  “We made it!”), whereas the time of transcendence, when the old paradigm must be left behind, is often one of turmoil, as the old guard refuses to relinquish control (“Damn the torpedoes!”  “Surrender, never!”) . . . refuses to surf the new wave of evolution.

The Tao of Partnership

Applied to the roles of men and women, the dialectic of progress [so named by J. Habermas and cited in SES, p. 202] has been zigzagging our fortunes consecutively higher on the spiral of evolution.  Early in our development as primates, female and male biological differences led to a differentiation of roles:  while both gathered food, only women birthed babies, and men banded together to hunt.  When pregnant women came to depend on men to bring home the food, the role of father emerged.  This new synthesis integrated the father into both the public/productive and private/reproductive spheres.

When the effects of the Indo-European invasions, and/or Agricultural Revolution, and/or literacy collided, causing the Great Reversal, male-female roles sharply differentiated and spiritual goals were knocked toward Ascent.  Humans developed, enhancing their left-brain (“masculine”) pathways, which would have been fine for a spell, until such time the dominator paradigm hit up against its limitations, and required a new synthesis via improved right-brain (“feminine”) influences.  A high level of left-brain assertive autonomy called for a corresponding step up of right-brain compassionate care.  But no . . .  Wars raged, empires expanded, the Inquisition tortured, the caste system solidified . . . all the while humanity yearned for the other – the Feminine Principle – shoe to drop.  The Patriarchy, however, lingered awhile in its dominator heaven.

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Lao Tzu,
Chinese sage

Not for lack of strong voices calling for a balancing integration, it must be noted . . . Plato, using reason, opened the topic of women rulers in the ideal State, and Plotinus (204-270 CE), founder of Neoplatonism, saw the value of both Ascent and Descent as spiritual strategies. He took on women students. Lao Tzu (6th or 4th century BCE) advised people to find “the Way” (Tao) through Nature and live in harmony with life’s events; his path of wu wei (“not acting” or “not forcing”) promoted a more “feminine” approach through simplicity and going with the flow. The Buddha preached compassion. Through his ascending system of liberation, he dispensed with the whole mythic tangle of goddesses and gods and spurred his followers toward self-realization.

Perhaps one of the most influential avatars of partnership values was Jesus Christ. His equal treatment of women – even to the point of allegedly defying Jewish law that permitted the stoning to death of an adulterous women – certainly added “proof” that he was a dangerous nonconformist. His blasphemy of personal divinity (“I and the Father are One”) only confirmed that he should be arrested and killed.

Early Christian groups not only included women, but were often led by women, much to the apostle Paul’s dismay.  In the books that did not make it into our current New Testament – among them, The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene – we can read that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ “right-hand woman” and a leader of the early Christian Church.  With her at his side, he preached the partnership values of compassion and nonviolence, with a spiritual strategy of “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Dan Brown’s premise in The DaVinci Code is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, who bore his offspring.  Gnostic Christians, who would have had access to the writings that were later exorcised from the Bible, believed that anyone could experience God directly and thereby had no need for the hierarchy (rabbi/pope/bishop) of the Church, which in the first half of the first millennium was consolidating its power, wealth, and political position.  Whereas Christ’s example was that anyone could self-realize, as he had, the Church decided to hold that idea hostage by insisting that only Jesus could accomplish Ascent, and everyone else would have to wait until after death, provided, of course, they had paid their dues (often literally) to the Church.  The repressive might of the Church would hold off the full integration of the Feminine Principle for more than a thousand years, until evolutionary pressure threw off its stranglehold on history.

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Jesus Christ Blesses the Children
From karenswhimsy.com/public-domain-images

Then, it was not that women finally broke through the barricades. Not at all. Women were as much a part of the mythic paradigm as men were. Just as the magical worldview suited the life conditions of tribal times, and mythic-membership organized everyone into their proper place for the Agrarian Age, what came next burst upon the scene with exactly what evolution demanded for the Modern Age: a world centric, rational stage upon which the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Age could strut their stuff.

Reason Prevails

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

– Leonardo da Vinci

The Renaissance blossomed out of Florence, Italy, in the 15th century. Science, art, and philosophy differentiated; escaping the oversight of the Church, each one blazed into new territory. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Father of Modern Science, explained physics with laws of motion and, with his new invention, the telescope, lent credence to the Copernican idea that planets revolved around the sun, instead of celestial bodies around the Earth. Could it be that Man was not the center of Creation? Tried by the Inquisition for his heretical ideas, Galileo died while under house arrest. In his book, Religion and Science, Ian G. Barbour contrasts the mythic and rational mindsets with the titles of his chapters:

Medieval Renaissance Age of Reason
 Aquinas  Galileo  Newton
 Method: Explanation by [Divine] Purposes  Method: Mathematics and Observation  Method: Experiment and Theory
 Nature as [God-] Created Hierarchy  Nature as Particles in Motion  Nature as Law-Abiding Machine
 God as Creator and Redeemer  God as Author of Nature and Scripture  God as Divine Clockmaker
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Vitruvian Man
by Leonardo daVinci (1485)
Contemporary drawing by Luc Viatour

In the wake of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who was born the year Galileo died, God receded from being the Creator who made a static Creation all at once and placed humanity at the center of a grand cosmic drama still in need of Him, to God who constructed the Universe like a big clock, wound it up, and sat back for occasional consultation by his human children. The infallibility of the Creation story was fundamental for the fortunes of men and women because, remember: Original Sin and eviction from the Garden of Eden were all Eve’s fault. The Fall from Grace justified the dominance of men over women.

During the Renaissance, the Medici family of Florence was patron to artists who were developing perspective in their art. No more medieval flat portrayals – now scenes came alive with 3-D feeling. Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, et al, explored the beauties to be found through realistic linear perspective. Nonreligious themes made it onto canvas, and the personal portrait announced the importance of the individual. A person with an ego? This was a complete about-face (pun intended) from the role identity of mythic membership society.

The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 sent Greek scholars fleeing to Italy – toting with them original texts from the classical philosophers that many thought had been lost in the sack of Rome. Classical themes became all the rage in painting and sculpture. Suddenly the ideas of the Platonic and Neoplatonic schools were debated again, put through the crucibles of reason: What evidence do you have? What experimental method did you use? What about from another perspective? To reply, “Because the Bible says so” would no longer fly.

By the time of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, scholars were shattering the confines of mythic thinking, and relying on science to construct a sensible reality, leaving behind transcendental spirituality altogether. Instead, the focus was strictly on the finite manifestations of Creation that could be perceived with the senses, in other words, salvation through Descent – only this time without a soul. As Ken Wilber puts it, “Understandably fed up with a millennium or two of (frustrated) upward-yearning and ‘pie in the sky’ aspirations, Reason threw out the transcendental baby with the mythic bathwater.” (SES, p. 382)

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The School of Athens (detail)
– fresco by Raffaello Sanzio (1509),
showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) at the center. Note use of linear perspective and realism.

Right makes Might

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

–  US Declaration of Independence

DeclarationOfIndependence
Detail of Declaration of Independence (1819)
by John Trumbull,
showing the five-man drafting committee presenting the Declaration to the American Congress. The entire painting is shown on the back of the US $2 bill.

The important differentiations of the Age of Reason were grounded firmly in left-brain thinking, and eventually would go too far into dissociation, but with the Enlightenment, the Feminine Principle saw the first rays of a new day dawning, and soon enough would seize it. What happened? The differentiation of the biosphere and the noosphere: the realms of body and mind.

The American Revolution (1776-1783) passionately declared, “Give me liberty or give me death!”, echoed by the French Revolution’s (1789-1799) cries of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!” Egalité? Equality?! Now this was something new! According to intellectual giants like Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson, and Franklin, everyone should be free and equal subjects under civil law. The Masculine Principle, with its drive toward independence, had evolved from being a self-asserting ego to an in-group defender to the upholder of universal rights. The implications, like the pealing bells of liberty, rolled out over the land: democracy, separation of Church and State, pluralistic tolerance, and human rights. In the 18th and 19th centuries, unfettered scientific invention in a capitalistic environment let loose the Industrial Revolution.

The set-in-stone law of the biosphere, which told men and women that “Biology is destiny”, suddenly found itself on shifting sands. In a world in which humans could have equal rights and machines accomplished the heavy work that only men used to do, women (and men) could reinvent their roles. Ken Wilber states, “Wherever pluralistic rationality emerged, social relations based on physical power – particularly slavery and the polarization or dissociation of the sexes – were found intolerable to reason, to pluralism and perspectivism – put yourself in the slave’s shoes (or lack of them) and see how it feels! All this was radically new.” [SES, p.398]

The set-in-stone law of the biosphere, which told men and women that “Biology is destiny”, suddenly found itself on shifting sands. In a world in which humans could have equal rights and machines accomplished the heavy work that only men used to do, women (and men) could reinvent their roles. Ken Wilber states, “Wherever pluralistic rationality emerged, social relations based on physical power – particularly slavery and the polarization or dissociation of the sexes – were found intolerable to reason, to pluralism and perspectivism – put yourself in the slave’s shoes (or lack of them) and see how it feels! All this was radically new.” [SES, p.398]

In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and feminism had a voice. With the differentiation of the noosphere and biosphere, it did not matter who birthed babies or who drove the plow. In the realm of ideas, men and women could be equal, and by the 19th century, the noosphere was swarming not only with ideas of equality (Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth), but “feminine” concerns about the welfare of children, workers, the sick, and the handicapped (Florence Nightingale, Jane Addams, Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix). Sprung loose from the kitchen, the Feminine Principle now evolved beyond its responsibilities to care for itself and the family, and entered the public sphere to care for the greater human family. Liberation movements marched straight through the 20th century as pluralistic values spread. Shlain would cite the upsurge of imagery and rebalancing of the brain hemispheres.

image045
Sojourner Truth, 19th century abolitionist
and women’s rights activist
image048
Suffrage parade, New York City, May 6, 1912

The final chisel blow to “biology as destiny” as absolute dictator was the availability of birth control to women. Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger campaigned vociferously for contraception in the United States before World War I, landing them both in jail under the Comstock Law, which prohibited the dissemination of “obscene, lewd, or lascivious articles”. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Goldman] Still, the campaign had been launched, and people had to consider that women might indeed have power over their own bodies – and not men, not the Pope, not God.

With the ability to take different perspectives and think things through, modern humans could compare ideas in a neutral environment (the noosphere), letting the most valid ideas win the day. Right makes might!

It is patently clear that many with a mythic mindset did not surrender their God in response to the voices of reason. The great advantage of the noosphere is that we can look at our past magic and mythic heritage and consciously choose elements from them that serve us. In this way, the mythic worldview itself evolved; God the Father in Heaven became God the Cosmic Mind. By the same token, rational thought allowed empires to simply rationalize their conquests when their victims did not accept the invader’s imperialistic agenda or dogma.

Peace

As often happens, the differentiation of masculine and feminine roles overreached into alienation (The War Between the Sexes) and repression (domestic violence, honor killings, denial of rights to divorce, own property, vote, etc.).  In addition, the differentiation of the biosphere and the noosphere slid into dissociation: witness the modern disconnection from our habitat to the point of environmental disaster. Evolution is not a journey for the fainthearted! The more developed we become, the wider and more complex our worldviews, and the more things that can go awry. Nonetheless, we can detect a general progression of the center of gravity of successive cultures as human history has wound its way up the spiral of evolution.

The drive to extend human rights crested in the 1960’s when a wave of postmodern compassion surged through society, sweeping away entrenched injustices. It was a time of idealism and vibrant ideologies: counterculture and social movements (civil rights, anti-war, peace and justice, women’s rights, Chicano rights, gay rights, student rights, animal rights, the sexual revolution), anti-colonialism and independence – especially in Africa – and environmentalism). Pluralism blossomed into a celebration of multiculturalism. Feminism came of age, aggressively knocking down sexist barriers and glass ceilings wherever it found them.

Pluralism, like every new worldview, would soon manifest its pathologies: differentiation tumbled into alienation (social fragmentation) and transcendence into repression (politically correct thought police), but its emergence was an exciting, yeasty time, to which the authors can attest.

PeaceRally
Hippie flower power meets the military establishment at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at the Pentagon,
Arlington, Virginia, 1967.
MartinLutherKing
Civil rights leader
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964

Power and Progress

History is a dream from which I am trying to awake.

–  James Joyce

Mars’ ideological ancestors redefined the meaning of power. As Riane Eisler explains, in partnership cultures, the power to give life was considered divine. Wealth was acquired through technologies of production. In dominator cultures, the ability to take life rules. Wealth is acquired through technologies of destruction. Today when we speak of powerful countries, for example, we may point to the size of their missile stockpiles. Instead of the word “power”, a more accurate noun might be “control”. So-called power brokers have mastered the ability to get others to do what they want them to do; they are controlmongers. In the dominator paradigm, women tend to manipulate and men threaten force in their relations with others. Such talents are far different from those of a gardener who can coax plants to grow, a musician who rouses people to dance, a painter who can stir the emotions, or a medicine woman who administers healing teas.

image051
Femme assise by Marie Vassilief (1910), Russian artist who was part of the French Cubist movement, a style of painting pioneered by Picasso.

Just as Joseph Campbell called attention to “the transformation of myth through time”, Venus and Her Lover promotes the idea that we human beings can also transform ourselves through time. For those who posit that “there has always been war”, “It is human nature to be violent”, and other such “man’s inhumanity to man” arguments, we respond that even if this were so (and this chapter should raise some doubts), it could no longer be true. Evolution continues to push . . . beyond rationality into pluralistic cooperation and holistic acceptance. Human nature can mature. Many are evolving out of self-centered survival mode, through open-hearted cooperative mode, into an all-encompassing beingness. In the 20th century, Picasso and the Cubists shifted people’s perspectives by presenting a completely new way to perceive space, and Einstein thoroughly revolutionized the way we pigeon-holed space and time and demonstrated that there was no such thing as an objective perspective. The Law of Relativity and ensuing quantum mechanics changed our parameters of reality and ushered us into the Age of Information.

Ken Wilber, in accordance with the Levels of Existence Theory of Clare Graves, names the next stage of evolution: the integral. While it is just now emerging, we can already see its initiatives to heal the split between the biosphere and noosphere by integrating them (such as in body-mind medicine), to defend the rights of world citizens, to protect Nature (the global commons, green technologies), to promote easy flow of communication that represents diverse viewpoints (internet neutrality), and to “live and let live” while crafting sustainable solutions for all. It could be said that Venus and Her Lover, with its integration of sex with spirit and egalitarianism between Woman and Man, represents one of the remote shorelines (sexuality) reached finally by the liberating postmodern wave, though our context, we believe, is more the unified “big picture” of integral.

In Wilber’s integral model, he describes how humans have progressed:

Stage of Development Cognitive Development and View Social Organization  Economic Base
 ARCHAIC  symbols, egocentric  tribes  foraging, horticultural
 MAGIC  concepts, anthropocentric  tribal, village  horticultural, agrarian
 MYTHIC  concrete operational, ethnocentric early state, empire  agrarian
 RATIONAL  formal operational, worldcentric  nation state  industrial
 PLURALISTIC vision-logic, planetary  planetary informational

The above table charts how civilization’s center of gravity has migrated in an ever more encompassing pattern. Each stage builds upon the previous one but goes beyond it (transcends and includes) to comprehend more of reality. These are only generalizations; cultures and even individuals are a mix of all levels simultaneously. To avoid stereotyping individuals, we should keep in mind that more than people passing through levels of development, the levels pass through people. Nonetheless, in general, Wilber comments that in the United States today, about 25-30% of the population have their center of gravity at mythic level (fundamentalist, family values), 40% are at rational (individualistic, scientific, materialistic), 25% are at pluralistic (postmodern, multicultural, environmentalist), and 2% are at integral (holistic, planetary-minded, aperspectival). All the above stages of development contribute their strengths to society, and all of them can sprout pathological elements that threaten it.

An integral perspective allows us to accept both “his story” and “her story” in our progressive growth over the ages. Through times of Earth-centered Descent and Heaven-gazing Ascent, men and women have been discovering their human and spiritual natures and possibilities. It is important to visualize our evolution as a spiral, because we do not leave behind former stages in a linear fashion, but transcend and include them as we move to the next, winding our way up a spiral. Every level of development has provided us with lessons learned via accomplishments as well as problems. Steve McIntosh, in his book, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, divides the stages slightly differently than Wilber does, but also clearly shows the progression:

STAGES OF EVOLUTION IN CONSCIOUSNESS & CULTURE

(adapted from Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution)

Consciousness Worldview Contributions Pathologies
 TRIBAL  magic  family, loyalty, imagination, sense of enchantment,

close to Nature, sense of sacred

 superstitious, violent, naive,

group mentality, docile

 WARRIOR  power  empowerment, initiates action,  individuality  aggressive, violent, ruthless,

amoral, warring

 TRADITIONAL  mythic  civic duty, law & order, loyalty,

black & white morality, faith

 intolerant, rigid, dogmatic,

fundamentalist, chauvinistic

 MODERNIST rational  individual liberty, reward thru merit, excellence

thru competition, science,

technology, democracy

 materialistic, nihilistic,

exploitative, selfish

 POSTMODERN  pluralistic  multiculturalism, compassion, worldcentric morality,

equality, environmentalism, spiritual diversity

 narcissistic, values are relative,

contempt for mythic & rational,

paralysis of will (endless processing)

 INTEGRAL  integral  practical & efficient worldcentric morality,

evolutionary spirituality,

respects all, holistic

 elitist, insensitive, aloof, impatient

The above table charts how civilization’s center of gravity has migrated in an ever more encompassing pattern. Each stage builds upon the previous one but goes beyond it (transcends and includes) to comprehend more of reality. These are only generalizations; cultures and even individuals are a mix of all levels simultaneously. To avoid stereotyping individuals, we should keep in mind that more than people passing through levels of development, the levels pass through people. Nonetheless, in general, Wilber comments that in the United States today, about 25-30% of the population have their center of gravity at mythic level (fundamentalist, family values), 40% are at rational (individualistic, scientific, materialistic), 25% are at pluralistic (postmodern, multicultural, environmentalist), and 2% are at integral (holistic, planetary-minded, aperspectival). All the above stages of development contribute their strengths to society, and all of them can sprout pathological elements that threaten it.

An integral perspective allows us to accept both “his story” and “her story” in our progressive growth over the ages. Through times of Earth-centered Descent and Heaven-gazing Ascent, men and women have been discovering their human and spiritual natures and possibilities. It is important to visualize our evolution as a spiral, because we do not leave behind former stages in a linear fashion, but transcend and include them as we move to the next, winding our way up a spiral. Every level of development has provided us with lessons learned via accomplishments as well as problems. Steve McIntosh, in his book, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, divides the stages slightly differently than Wilber does, but also clearly shows the progression:

STAGES OF EVOLUTION IN CONSCIOUSNESS & CULTURE

(adapted from Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution)

Consciousness Worldview Contributions Pathologies
 TRIBAL  magic  family, loyalty, imagination, sense of enchantment,

close to Nature, sense of sacred

 superstitious, violent, naive, group mentality, docile
 WARRIOR  power  empowerment, initiates action, individuality  aggressive, violent, ruthless, amoral, warring
 TRADITIONAL  mythic  civic duty, law & order, loyalty,

black & white morality, faith

 intolerant, rigid, dogmatic, fundamentalist, chauvinistic
 MODERNIST  rational  individual liberty, reward thru merit,

excellence thru competition, science, technology, democracy

 materialistic, nihilistic, exploitative, selfish
 POSTMODERN  pluralistic  multiculturalism, compassion, worldcentric morality,

equality, environmentalism, spiritual diversity

 narcissistic, values are relative, contempt for mythic & rational, paralysis of will (endless processing)
 INTEGRAL  integral  practical & efficient worldcentric morality,

evolutionary spirituality, respects all, holistic

 elitist, insensitive, aloof, impatient

Don Beck and Christopher Cowan popularized Clare Graves’ Levels of Existence Theory via their book, Spiral Dynamics – Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change. By picturing human evolution as a spiral, Beck and Cowan noted that our worldviews shift to and fro, between an emphasis on “express self’ and “sacrifice self”, between acting as an individual and acting collectively. The direction of the spiral, again, is from the bottom up. [See graphic of Spiral Dynamics, below] Keep in mind that each way of conceptualizing the world (magic, mythic, rational, etc.) is built upon the one that came before it, and necessarily carries with it the lessons of the previous ones. If we did not carry within us the accomplishment of the warrior stage, for example, none of us would be able to act independently in the world. Our conception of self-empowerment has been evolving right along, so that we can, in present day, assert our personal boundaries without sword in hand.

In Spiral Dynamics, each meme (mindset, worldview) is assigned a catchy name and a color association:

Worldview Spiral Dynamics Meme Color Archetypal Where
 ARCHAIC  Survival / Sense Instinctive beige

(hunting in the

savannahs)

 the bush
 MAGIC -ANIMISTIC  Kin Spirits  Clannish purple(royal robes of

tribal chief)

 enchanted forest
 WARRIOR  Power Gods  Egocentric red(hot-blooded)  jungle
 MYTHIC – TRADITIONAL  Truth Force  Purposeful blue

(true blue

believer)

 cathedral
 RATIONAL -MODERNIST  Strive Drive  Strategic orange(industrial

furnace)

 marketplace
PLURALISTIC -POSTMODERN  Human Bond  Relativistic green

(eco-politics)

 commune
 Momentous leap from subsistence levels ↑   to being levels  ↓
 INTEGRAL  Flex Flow  Systemic yellow(solar power &

alternatives)

 natural habitat
 INTEGRAL  Global View  Holistic turquoise

(our water

planet)

 global village

Beck and Cowan stress that the spiral denotes not kinds of people, but kinds of thinking that flow through people.  In essence, they are different realities in which people live.  Whereas compassion may be the highest goal for a pluralistic-minded person, it is a sign of weakness to the warrior; whereas in tribes, individual initiative can throw everyone’s existence into jeopardy, a similar entrepreneurial spirit is lavishly rewarded in the modernist marketplace.

We present here a few different renditions of the spiral of evolution to help us to interpret our history, and to keep in mind when we consider gender relations.  Since we live in a time when all worldviews have access to the internet and the marketplace (and vice versa), it behooves us to advance our own personal evolution and that of our society.  The more people who can think pluralistically or beyond, the greater our chances of survival as a species on this planet.

SpiralDynamicsv2

Atlantis – A Cautionary Tale

All the Gods who play in the mythological dramas
In all legends from all lands were from fair Atlantis . . .
And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind,
Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new –
Hail Atlantis!

–  Donovan

While we like to think of evolution as having directionality toward more diversity and synthesis, we must allow for a dangerous possibility: retreat. Some cultures on the planet right now are arguably at evolutionary arrest, which might be a pause before changing direction. Should humanity throw it into reverse, evolution would crawl back down the path it came, which means: we could lose our most recent acquisition – the noosphere. If nuclear powers make good on their threats to bomb a country back to the Stone Age, all the dead would take their minds with them. Survivors would be traumatized. If their infrastructure were destroyed, they would revert to gang (i.e. tribal) modes of foraging and possibly warfare, given their post-traumatic stress, à la Mad Max in Road Warrior [a 1981 Australian film about a post-apocalypse dystopia]. Should any number of environmental catastrophes play out, resulting in planetary upheaval, we might be sent back to live under the relentless rules of the biosphere without the transcendental dispensations of the noosphere.

Could this have happened before on Earth? This historical overview started in the Paleolithic period, but what if we had a pre-prehistory? Archaeologists have unearthed an impressive collection of monumental artifacts on nearly every continent. The Giza pyramids in Egypt were constructed with geometric precision, and when seen from above, visually correspond to the alignment (in 10,500 BCE) of the stars of the constellation Orion. The Great Pyramid of Giza was made of 2.3 million limestone blocks, each weighing between 2-50 tons, and quarried over 800 kilometers away in Aswan. If we do not yet have the technology to build such monuments, how did the ancients do it? The ruins at Baalbek in Lebanon are made of colossal stones, including “the largest building block in the world” (weighing at least 1200 tons!). The Roman temple at Baalbek sits atop a gargantuan base that is clearly older and of a different style. How could the builders move such stones? On a high plateau in Peru, the Nazca lines can only be seen from the air. The largest drawing is 200 meters across, while other lines, 1500 meters long, run straight across the terrain, not unlike demarcations for modern airport runways. These are three of the most sizable monuments, but thousands of artifacts, stones, and tablets exist that confound archaeologists because of their composition, complexity, or incongruity with where they were found. Many call into question the timeline of history.

Let us imagine, for a moment, that there existed advanced civilizations in our past.  We can be helped into this fantasy by myths of a past Golden Age, a myth held in common by nearly all ancient cultures.  The oldest one, Lemuria, or Mu, is described as a peaceful, ethereal society in which people lived in harmony with nature and enjoyed heightened psychic abilities.  James Churchward, a Lemuria scholar, states in The Children of Mu, “The great civilizations of the old Oriental empires – India, Egypt, Babylonia, etc. – were only the dying embers of Mu’s great civilization.  They were her children, who withered and died without her care.”  [The Children of Mu, p.12]  He asserts that Lemuria sank beneath the Pacific Ocean as a result of earthquakes and volcanoes.  Churchward’s research of tablets, inscriptions, and legends from Mexico, India, China, Burma, Tibet, Cambodia, the western US, and the Pacific Islands (tracing lines of migration from the Pacific Ocean’s volcanic Ring of Fire) indicate that Lemurian outposts were also destroyed by “the Great Magnetic Cataclysm, the Great Flood, and subsequent mountain raising.”  [The Children of Mu, p.103]

Atlantis, theoretically settled by Lemurians, advanced civilization in many concrete ways.  Legends tell of a technological society that used crystal power, aircraft, underwater craft, sacred geometry in architecture (pyramid building), and weather modification.  Plato describes Atlantis as a great naval power – a story he heard from Solon, who heard it from an Egyptian priest.

image055
Pyramids of Giza, aerial view
From “Memphis” (1930), Jean Capart
image057
Hajar el Hibla (The Stone of the Pregnant Woman),
estimated to weigh over 1000 tons, in a quarry near Baalbek, Lebanon. Note size of people on top of the block!
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Goodyear Archival Collection

A carved rock boulder unearthed in Ecuador in 1984 depicts the Earth, with all the continents, plus a large round island in the Atlantic Ocean, matching Plato’s description of Atlantis being “in front of the Pillars of Hercules” (the Straits of Gibraltar). At the bottom of the stone map are inlaid gold dots in the pattern of the Orion constellation, as well as an inscription in a language called by linguists, “pre-Sanskrit” because it has similarities to writing from the Indus River Valley. In fact, similar writing on stones or terra cotta has been found in Ecuador, Easter Island, Colombia, midwestern USA, France, Malta, Turkmenistan, Australia, and Italy. [“The Hidden History of the Human Race”] Artifacts found with the stone map (the Crespi Collection) are difficult to date because of their composition (durable stone), but some archaeologists estimate that they are at least 6000 years old . . . definitely long before Columbus “discovered” the Americas. Researcher Klaus Dona observes that the existence of a worldwide language implies an ancient global civilization. [“The Hidden History of the Human Race”]

Atlantis, like Lemuria, is supposed to have sunk beneath the waves in a series of cataclysms around 10,000 BCE.  Possible traces of once mighty Atlantis have been found underwater between Cuba and the Bahamas:  the Bimini Road, and underwater pyramids, a marble acropolis, and other ruins.  Edgar Cayce, a 20th century psychic, revealed many details about the “Kingdom of Poseidon” and explained why it mattered to us today:

“Be it true that there is the fact of reincarnation, and that souls that once occupied such an environ [i.e. Atlantis] are entering the earth’s sphere and inhabiting individuals in the present, is it any wonder that – if they made alterations in the affairs of the earth in their day, as to bring destruction upon themselves – if they are entering now, they might make many changes in the affairs of peoples and individuals in the present?”  (364-1)   [On Atlantis, p.28]

image061
Athanasius Kircher’s map of Atlantis (1669).
North is at the bottom of the map.

Could it be, as Cayce suggests, that reincarnated scientists from Atlantis are with us today to see if they learned their lessons about developing technology for destructive purposes? As preposterous as such karmic consequences might sound to some, the sad fact of our current technological development is that it has produced atomic weapons, biological and chemical warfare, and HAARP, a high intensity radio wave which is bounced off the ionosphere and capable of affecting weather, earthquakes, hurricanes, and even human emotions. Our smartest scientific minds have mounted military devices ready to destroy the human race. Could it be a show of one-upmanship over Atlantis, which was only capable of destroying itself? Or did Atlanteans also achieve such a capability, knocking humanity back down the spiral of evolution to tribal or lower? With the exception of a few survivors who escaped to found the Egyptian, Mayan, and Andean cultures, did the Atlanteans depart suddenly, taking the immense wealth of their noosphere with them?

In the book, Memories and Visions of Paradise – Exploring the Myth of a Lost Golden Age, author Richard Heinberg follows the logic of what might have happened after the demise of a past Golden Age on Earth.  Here is one scenario that he describes [Memories and Visions of Paradise, p.176] . . . Sometime in the past, a meteor collided with Earth, causing floods/the Ice Age/mass extinctions.  People, traumatized by the disasters and surviving in a fearful environment of shortages, turned to worshipping the sky gods (where the comet came from) to propitiate the gods’ anger.  Blaming themselves for bringing about the catastrophe, they internalized the “abuse”, so psychologically they re-enacted the dynamic, either as victim or abuser.  This led to guilt and shame, resulting in abusive childrearing (emphasizing violence and fear), which perpetuated the cycle in subsequent generations.  Heinberg explains that the nearly universal myths of Paradise and the Fall refer to “a primal tragedy” [Memories and Visions of Paradise, p.211] that shifted people’s focus from life’s “condition of oneness and participation to one of separateness, greed, and fear.” [Memories and Visions of Paradise, p.211].  His hypothesis would neatly present us with the Indo-Europeans and their dominator culture.  For many of us raised by parents who spanked us, we can recognize our family lineage . . . the effects of a planetary trauma passed from generation to generation?

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