As I birth this blog on Mother's Day, I begin a journey into the numinous wilds on a path I'm only partly familiar with. My spirituality has never really focused on gender or sex, though they have sometimes been connected to it, here and there. I have been aware of the more feminine side of spirituality, but have not yet asked to enter the circle of women. I've been on a more solitary path, communing with nature and spirit, getting comfy with my metaphorical hermit cottage near the hedge.
I am a woman, and a mother, as well as a sister/daughter/etc. but due to a disconnection from the insular religion and culture of my birth, I have also been disconnected from my circle of women relatives and the community and friends of my youth. It is a lot like I have gone to live in a different world, and I need to integrate into a new community and form a family that includes the mothering and sisterhood I find myself yearning for. I hope to do so with wise women who aren't deprived by patriarchal forces of their own power, their own mind and spirit... women I could build something with... meaningful action in the world.
In studying anthropology, I've been learning about matrilineal and matrilocal societies where lineage is traced through mothers, and men marry into the clans of their wives, rather than patrilocal systems where women marry and go to live with or near to their husband's family. These societies have strong female networks of family and community that you probably sense an echo of in Western culture despite the exclusion of women from positions of community authority for so long. (Thank Goddess it's changing!) There are still networks, a community of women who hold sway over domestic life, at least. Mothers and grandmothers always held some authority in family life. The matrilineal/matrilocal societies tend to be more egalitarian and less legalistic. They tend to be foraging or horticultural societies, where women are the primary or equal subsistence workers, and benefit from stable and cooperative networks with each other. There are no known examples of a matriarchy – a society in which women exclusively control descent, inheritance, and social and political power. I don't think women have ever needed or wanted that extent of control. We tend to the egalitarian ways.