There are many questions about the Old Culture – a culture even before history was written. Whatever happened to the Great Goddess? When did patriarchy start? How did women become objectified? This book is about the Journey of ancient women with their many glories and challenges. It talks about the gender partitioning which still survived in some cultures today, women as warriors, advisers, goddesses and properties.
Chapters included are: •The Goddess Paradigm •Women Warrior •Dethroning the Queen of Heaven •The Queen in Exile
Written with a Mathematician’s precision and a Historian’s curiosity, Time Maps covers over millennia worth of developments & impacts of civilizations, migrations, leaders and continents. Illuminating concepts of societies, dynasties, heroes, kings and eras through incisive and thorough research, looking at ideas, theories & world views with a sense of wonder and delight.
The descendents of the Great Mother, or Queen of Heaven, still have a place in the local mythologies and cultures from Indonesia and the Philippines to Hawaii.
The Tinguian people of the Philippines honor Agemem (“Lady Creator”) as co-creator (with her husband) of the sun, moon, earth and stars. In Borneo some Dayaks honor Jata who, together with the sun, created the world and sky. She is a serpent or dragon figure, and an inhabitant of the primeval chaos, like Tiamat. Rabia is an Earth goddess who, like Inanna, Eurydice, and many others, enters the underworld and is then reborn – her story is from the island of Ceram, in Eastern Indonesia, near New Guinea.
In spite of variations of language and culture, the words Hine and Hina are common across the Polynesian part of the Pacific for the names and titles of goddesses, and always denote something great, sacred and feminine. The various Hine/Hina goddesses may simply be aspects of one Great Goddess. This uniformity suggests that there may have been one great goddess with a similar name who was worshipped by the Polynesians in ancient times. In particular the New Zealand Maoris have Hine Te Iwa Iwa, who is the Maori Goddess of women, childbirth and creativity.
Hinaura was the sister or cousin of Maui who met and married the famous rangatira, Tinirau, who could speak to whales and befriend them. Hinaura and Tinirau had a son, Tu-huruhuru. They were very happy living in his kainga, village. Then one day Tinirau hit her. Hinaura took her son to her whānau kainga.
After many months of his pleading with her, Hinaura returned to his village. They were happy until one day Tinirau found another woman. Hinaura objected, so Tinirau imprisoned her behind a wall of magic whale rib bones. She was angered and called her brother/cousin Maui-mua. He changed himself in to a rupe, pigeon, and she rode on the bird’s back out of the prison.
Hinaura gathered her courage and decided to move on with her life. To mark the event, she changed her name to Hine te iwa iwa. She left Tu-huruhuru with Tinirau in order to pacify him, knowing that his whānau would continue to care for him. She became an expert in women’s affairs and responsibilities supporting ruahine and puhi, including the domestic arts. She protects and defends women in their work especially in childbirth.
Hine Moa (“Passionate Princess”) is honored for the virtues of loyalty and courage. Noble born Hine Moa was charmed by the sound of music played by Tutanekai. When Tutanekai visited the mainland with his people, he met Hine Moa and they fell in love. The young man had perforce to return to his village, but the lovers arranged that every night he would play and that Hine Moa would follow the sound of his music to join him.
Tutanekai kept up a nightly serenade but Hine Moa’s people, suspecting something was afoot, had hidden all the canoes. The maiden, however, was not to be deterred and, selecting six large, dry, empty gourds as floats, she decided to swim to the island. Guided by the strains of her loved one’s music, Hine Moa safely reached the other shore and landed near a hot spring, Waikimihia, in which she warmed and refreshed herself – the pool is on Mokoia Island to this day. Just at that moment Tutanekai sent his servant for water. This man disturbed the girl who, pretending to be a man, spoke in a gruff voice and, when she learnt his errand, begged for a drink from the calabash which she smashed as soon as she had had her fill. The servant then went back and reported to Tutanekai what had happened. He was ordered back again and again, each time with the same result, until all the calabashes were broken. The now irate young man himself went down to the pool and to his joy discovered Hine Moa. Like all good stories, the legend has a conventional ending – they lived happily ever after.
There is also Hine Moana is “The Lady of the Sea”, which is natural enough considering the Polynesian tradition of seafaring.
The Maori Earth Mother is Papatuanuku, and her husband Rangi Nui is the Sky Father. These two were created by Io, the fundamental divine principle, and together, as the productive and generative principles, they created everything that is between the Earth and the Sky.
Haumea is an Earth Mother goddess and called the “Mother of Hawaii”. She is particularly concerned with childbirth and women’s affairs. Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, and Hi’iaka Laka, the Goddess of the hula, love and fertility, are her daughters. Again the trinitarian nature of the goddess is evident and the relation between the three aspects parallels that of the aspects of Ratu Kidul.
People in Hawaii also respects the Queen of the Sea, also sometimes called the Queen of the South Sea. This respect is encouraged by the tradition that she can appear as a very beautiful young woman, wearing a scarlet red dress and walking by the side of the road, but that men who stop to pick her up sometimes vanish and are never heard from again. Many people claim to have seen her, but since none of them disappeared we still hear only half of the story.
“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is due in January 2018. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.
The Toltecs and Aztecs had originally worshipped a person/couple called Ometecuhtli (the male part) and Omechihuatl (the female part). Sometimes these are shown combined into one being with male and female aspects. Omechihuatl was referred to variously as the wife, twin sister, or female aspect of Ometecuhtli, and was his complete equal in power because she was distinguishable from him only by gender. This couple acted as one Creator God and symbolized the duality of nature and the inseparable unity of the Great Life Force. After Ometecuhtli and Omechihuatl, who can be considered as the first generation in the genealogy of the Aztec gods, next came the great Mother Goddess.
The Great Goddess was not nice. Really, after centuries of evidence of women going off to wars and are perfectly capable of doing some pretty awful things, we should just accept that female niceness is something that exists mainly in the imaginations of men and politicians because, before the needs of the new religious ideas and the social order that goes with it, the goddess was never just nice and sweet. She was female – nice, terrifying, gentle, powerful, compassionate, horrifying, and much more. One can still see some of this in the images and representations of the goddess Kali in India. In ancient Mexico she was called Coatlicue, or “Serpent Skirt”, and she had many of the same characteristics and symbols as Kali. They were both fierce protectors and compassionate mothers, wore severed hands and skulls draped around them, and had protruding tongues. Some representations of Kali show her with fang-like teeth, Coatlicue is sometimes shown with a human skull as a head.
In later forms, their powers were dismembered. In India the compassionate protector function went to Durga, who battled only against demons, and in Mexico it went first to Tonantsi (who accepted only the sacrifice of birds and small animals, not of humans). The darker, underworld, aspects of the old goddess went to a number of lesser goddettes such as Tlazolteotl and Cihuacoatl. Cihuacoatl was an Aztec earth and mother-goddess, and patroness of childbirth. She was sometimes portrayed holding a child in her arms, but her roar was a signal of war – perhaps because there is nothing more ferocious than a mother protecting her children.
“Coatl” is the Nahuatl word for serpent, and the use of serpent symbolism is ubiquitous in Mexican and Central American iconography prior to the Invasion. As far back as the time of the Olmecs, the mouth of the serpent was a symbol of womanhood. It was a sacred place, a safe place, the womb from which all things were born, and also a symbol of the place to which all would return. As remarked by Gloria Anzaldua, a native Mexican, (Entering into the Serpent, Anzaldua, 1979), “The destiny of humankind is to be devoured by the Serpent.”
“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.
The upcoming Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture is a book that is very near to my heart for a number of reasons. In it, I have the freedom to not only explore mythology from many different cultures, but figure out how the myths known to us today actually come about. Another reason is that I have always been fascinated by goddesses in particular. I believe that they all come from the same source – many of them retaining some of the characteristics as time goes on.
The question then, of course, is why do we feel the need to have our goddesses retain only some of the aspects of the great mother? I suppose it is in our nature to complicate the simple and simplify the complicated. We do that with religions too although we can never seem to get it right. Beliefs in general are both simple and complicated. A belief is not good or bad – it is just “is”. Our need to simplify it boxing it as one or the other often complicates – bringing about things such as discrimination and destruction, while our attempt to complicate it by imposing all sorts of rules and restrictions often leads to fanaticism.
I have talked about how the all-encompassing nature of the Mother Goddess can be empowering and terrifying for men and women alike – also both simple and complicated. Perhaps it is too much for us to contemplate. Too much so that we find ways to simplify it for ourselves by “dismembering”, as it were, the Great Mother.
An example of the process of dismemberment of a goddess is the story of Demeter and Persephone. “De-meter” is from Da-mater, “The Mother”. She probably entered Greece from Crete, and before that she was strongly linked with Isis in Egypt, but she wasn’t called Demeter then, since that is an Indoeuropean name. The Indoeuropean era is when we start to see how The Mother became dismembered. Demeter’s function became more restricted and she was called the Grain Mother, representing the mature crops, and her daughter Kore, was the Grain Maiden, representing the new growths. The later Greeks changed Kore’s name to Persephone, possibly deriving the name from Phesephatta, who was an ancient pre-Indoeuropean Earth goddess native to the Greek Peninsula.
Since the growth of crops follows the seasons, Demeter came to be associated with summer and autumn while her daughter represented winter and spring. Originally the goddess, in whatever form she appeared, did not have a daughter, but she herself had maiden and mature aspects, and her appearance could change with the seasons. Evidently, that was a bit too complicated, so she was split in two – one became the daughter of the other. Thus Demeter and Kore were two aspects of the Triple Goddess (the virgin and the mother).
When Hades abducted Kore, Demeter’s search for her daughter took her to the palace of Celeus, the King of Eleusis in Attica. She assumed the form of an old woman (the crone), and asked him for shelter. He took her in, to nurse Demophon and Triptolemus, his sons by Metanira. To reward his kindness, she planned to make Demophon immortal; she secretly anointed the boy with ambrosia and laid him in the flames of the hearth, to gradually burn away his mortal self. But Metanira walked in, saw her son in the fire and screamed in fright. Demeter abandoned the attempt. Instead, she taught Triptolemus the secrets of agriculture, and he in turn taught them to any who wished to learn them. Thus, humanity learned how to plant, grow and harvest grain (This whole section is all about birth, death and rebirth.)
The old stories of Demeter are identical with stories of Isis in Egypt – only the names have been changed – she was the sister-wife of the lord of the underworld, with power equal to or even greater than her brother, and she passed freely between the worlds.
“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.
The word “feminine” and “feminism”, with its many variations, has become somewhat of a dirty word these days. Young women deny vehemently any suggestion that they are in any way a “feminist”. Some would cautiously say “yes I am a feminist” before quickly adding a qualifier “but I like men” as if not saying that would make them in any way less of a woman. The recently announced actress for the TV Show Dr. Who, the first female to take on the iconic 50+ years character, drew such vitriol online that she had to urge the audience to “not be afraid” of her gender – These are only some mild examples compared to many other situations where an apology, explanation or, at least, an earnest assurance that no harm is being done is required for being a woman.
As with everything else, there are ancient precedents for this distaste for femininity. One source of resistance in Europe stems from the gynophobia of the early Church Fathers of Christianity. The church institutionalized the message that the present position of women in society is better than it has ever been before, and that this is due to Christianity and the church. The institutions of the state concurred in this assessment since it suited them well enough. These views have become entrenched in religion and law, since both the church and state base their powers on the cultural assumption that women are inferior, weaker and dependent, compared with the superior men. However, the reality is that none of these claims has ever been true in the family, the community, religion, or society at large. Aristophanes was aware of this and it is part of the comedy in his play “Lysistrata”, in which the women abstain from sexual relations with their husbands until the men promise to stop making wars and trouble all over the place. It worked for a while but, of course, not completely as planned because most normal healthy women are not saints either.
Although the 19th century Swiss scientist Johann Jakob Bachofen showed that a matrifocal age once existed in Europe, many people still resist this notion. One reason is the, by now culturally embedded, memory of males being the socially dominant and the center of attention. Evidence that this is purely a cultural choice has been interpreted as an attempt to lower the prestige of men in their own eyes, and perhaps reduce their hold on the centers of power. Therefore, it has been strongly resisted.
The nature of the Great Goddess gives us a clue to one of the deepest reasons for the resistance to evidence of matriarchies and other matrifocal cultures. There is no complete list of all the names the goddess has had and still has, but in Europe, the Nile-Oxus Region and North Africa, she has more than 260 names. She has been called the Triple Goddess, the White Goddess, the Goddess of Creation, the Great Mother, and Goddess of the Sea (the sea represents feelings – deep and untameable). We find that in some cultures with strong traditions of the Sea Goddess a strongly-held belief that marrying the goddess (or at least mating her to a king or a hero) is considered to be the way to “tame” her spirit.
The Great Goddess combines all aspects of the Triple Goddess in one personality – she is nurturing, enchanting and dangerous at the same time. She is both beautiful and terrifying. To have a close encounter with her can be deeply disturbing, even fatal, for a man if he is not guarded and careful. However, women report different reactions, such as reaching a new degree of maturity in their womanhood. They feel empowered, stronger and more certain in who they are and how they can contribute to their society.
The myths and attributes of the White Goddess or Triple Goddess are remarkably similar all over the world, from Ireland to Japan and from Africa to Hawaii. In fact the goddess has all the characteristics of the Jungian Anima. The anima and animus are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind as well as the abstract symbolic sets that formulate the archetype of the Self. Both are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious – that is, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of a man, this archetype finds expression as a feminine inner personality (anima) and in the unconscious of a woman it is expressed as a masculine inner personality (animus). The anima also influences a man’s interactions with women and his attitudes toward them and vice versa for women and the animus. Jung viewed the anima as being one of the sources of creative ability.
The association of the goddess with the Anima explains many things about her – why she is a source of creativity and destruction, of exaltation and terror; and why most men find it difficult to think about her without becoming emotional, and find it almost impossible to talk sensibly about her at all. This also explains why the prospect of reaching mature womanhood (i.e. being older) is a terrifying prospect for many women. The suppression of the goddess religions, which was often quite irrationally brutal, is also more understandable if one considers it as a reaction by the Animus after a long period of domination by the Anima.
Almost all of the myths of the Great Mother goddess have now been replaced by myths of gods, or, as in the story of Talia, they have been altered so much that the original meaning has been lost. The oldest surviving form of the Snow White story is inseparable from the Sleeping Beauty story. It involves a girl named Talia who is exiled to the forest, gets a poisoned thorn in her finger and goes into a death-like coma. The handsome prince comes along and makes her pregnant. Talia gives birth to two children, a boy and a girl. Of course, this is not the Disney version of the story, but there is another component of the story, now forgotten, that lifts it out of the realm of fairy tales completely – the children’s names were Sun and Moon. Talia was a goddess of creation, and the handsome prince was a god. It is a story of how the universe came into being and Talia is the Great Mother goddess. So, the Great Goddess is not dead as in the stories we read to our children there are still remnants of a tradition that goes back tens of thousands of years.
“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link.
I am currently working on my part for the fourth Time Maps book called “Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture”. Therefore, my research will play a considerable role in my blog narrative for a while. I will start with an often misused word: “The Matrix”.
The root “matri” denotes the womb, so words such as matriarchal and matrilineal refer to social structures where women have major roles. The word “matrix” is also from the same root, and denotes an all-encompassing context, or a source of generation – again like a womb. So let’s look at some words with “matri” in it:
Matriarchy is government by women, also called gynocracy. A matrilineal society is one in which descent is defined through the female line. In ancient times matriarchal and matrilineal societies were much more common than they are now. This usually relates to rights of inheritance and definitions of clans or extended families, but one can also find traces of it in ancient Egypt, where for long periods the right to the throne was through the female line. It makes sense really, since one usually knows who a baby came out of, but one cannot always be sure who put it in there. A matrifocal society is one in which the culture and social structures are centered on the roles of the women. This is a more nebulous concept than matriarchy and matrilineality, and difficult to define precisely – but let’s look at a contemporary example.
Almost all newspaper and television reportage these days are about the activities of men, with emphasis on wars, business, and various forms of political and commercial debates. Because many of our cultures are mainly patrifocal, even patriarchal, these things are considered important. However, we could just as easily have matrifocal cultures, in which matters of childraising and care for future generations, education, family welfare, and other matters of interest and concern to women are given major media coverage. Men’s issues, such as war and football, could be relegated to a special page at the back of newspapers and magazines with a title like “For Him”, or “The Men’s Page”. There could even be special television programs for men, in which one could see the latest trends in warfare from those creative people in Washington, or frivolous technological fashions from Japan. So being matrifocal or patrifocal reflects what the culture considers to be important.
Matriarchy lasted for more than 30,000 years, declined over a period of five thousand years and became extinct about a thousand years ago. Chinese writings refer to the existence of a matriarchal empire in Tibet in the sixth and seventh centuries of the Common Era, during the rise of the Tang Dynasty in China.
As early as the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt, royal succession became fixed in the female line. The child of a royal princess could reign as pharaoh by right of descent even if her husband was a commoner. The children of a prince with a commoner were excluded from the succession completely. Diodorus states that queens in Egypt were shown greater respect and possessed more power than kings, and in all of the monuments and paintings, only queens wear the triple crown, signifying ecclesiastical, judicial and sovereign power.
Another type of society is partitioned on gender lines. There is a lot of gender partitioning in all cultures as it is a major part of how we tell the difference between girls and boys – but the structures of some societies are defined by it. It is more easily seen in smaller societies such as the tribes and bands of hunter-gatherers in Australia and New Guinea, and it was a key feature of the pre-invasion cultures of North America and Oceania. In this kind of society the roles and responsibilities of men and women are different, and the social rules that apply to them also are different – not one being better or freer than the other, just different. For example in Australia the men went hunting but the women ruled the camp and were responsible for family welfare, for most trade, and for matters of social or group organization. In traditional Polynesia the women did the housework and looked after the small children but the men did the cooking.
In places where gender partitioning is strong, a person may refuse to do a certain type of work because it is traditionally done by the other gender. This does not involve any value judgment, for example that the work is beneath them, but simply that the person would be stepping out of his or her place in society to do so. They would be trespassing on the domain of the other gender. This could be discourteous or it could be seen as an insult. Gender partitioning, when properly done, has advantages. Where the roles are clear and equitably balanced, so that the genders can feel self-respect in their functions, any attempt to suppress women would not only be unthinkable, it would be laughable, since to do so would require that the whole structure of the society be subverted. It is when the roles become weak, unbalanced or confused that a gender can be suppressed by the other.
In more recent times, the Federation of Six Nations is the best documented example of a society in which women had key political power. The Six Nations achieved one of the highest forms of government in the history of the world, and it included strong powers and big responsibilities for women. It is an easy habit of speech to say that it “gave” strong powers to the women, but that would be incorrect – the women already had those powers in their own nations, and the constitution of the Six Nations simply continued and formalized them.
In the Six Nations descent was matrilineal, and this was the basis for deciding matters of clan and totem membership. Women’s property rights also were well protected – if a marriage broke up then the woman had the full right to all of the property she had brought into the marriage. A woman’s bond to her children was also respected – when a marriage failed the children almost invariably went with the mother. A Council of Women had a major, and often decisive, role in settling all social disputes and questions of tradition within each tribe and nation. It was the men who went to war but in many areas, after the men had decided for war, they had to get the approval of the Women’s Council, which was not always given. If the women did not agree then the men could not go to war. So in this case the women had a strategic policy role, while the men were concerned with tactical matters. Peace treaties, also, have been preserved that were signed by the “Sachems (chiefs) and Principal Women of the Six Nations”.
These women were certainly not second class citizens in any sense, but they did not have complete control either. The Six Nations was not a matriarchy but it had a much more balanced partitioning of gender roles than most modern societies have. There were variations between the Nations – in some the Council of Women had almost complete legislative authority while in others it was less – but in all cases the women had a prominent role in government. This could also be said of many others among the nations and tribes of North America. So the idea that men “must” have controlled the key political positions, because it is “natural” that the warriors be in charge, is a load of nonsense.
“Time Maps: Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture” is coming soon. Meanwhile, other volumes of “Time Maps” can be found through this link
At the beginning of this cycle of time, the Great Spirit divided the people of the world into five groups, giving each of them a different color. To each he gave specific teachings, and to each he gave a specific task. He then sent four of the groups out in four different directions in the world. Cautioning them that one group can never exist alone, the Great Spirit instructed that, when they came back together again, the five groups were to share their teachings and what they had learned in carrying out their tasks.
The task of the black people was to learn about the Earth – how things grow, foods that are good to eat, plants that heal. They would be able to teach others about survival and endurance.
The task of the yellow people was to learn about water – the most humble, yet most powerful of the elements and strongly linked to our human emotions. Through their own difficulties, they would be able to teach others how to adapt to life’s unpredictable circumstances.
The task of the red people was to learn about wind – breath and animal life, air, the sky and everything within and above it. From this, they would learn about change, stability and motivation, then share their knowledge with others.
The task of the white people was to learn about fire – action and movement, consuming and changing all it touches, typified by strong mind and will. From this, they would learn, and later teach others, about moderation as well as humility to give and accept help.
The task of the brown people was to learn about their own nature as human beings – brown being the union of the four other colors. From this, they would understand and share the nature and power of love.
So the people went out and studied all the matters as they had been instructed, but they were very slow learners and it took a very long time. By the time they began to meet again, they had forgotten the instruction to teach and share what they had learned. They had forgotten that they each had only a part of the human experience and that they still had to learn the other parts from each other.
This story is based on some Native American teachings and a few inputs from Asian traditions.
This is a retelling of an excerpt from Time Maps: History, Prehistory and Biological Evolution, by Dr. R.K Fisher and Martini Fisher. The book is available in Amazon and in bookstores. To get your copy, click here.