Cretan Musings: Inspired by Goddess Pilgrimages
Musings inspired by the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete on ancient Crete, the Goddesses of Crete, Societies of Peace, and the rebirth of the Goddess in contemporary culture, by Carol P. Christ, author of Rebirth of the Goddess.
Societies of Peace, Societies of EndlessWar
While I was in Crete on the Goddess Pilgrimage teaching about and experiencing a Society of Peace where violence and domination were neither celebrated nor encouraged, another war broke out in Iraq, breaking my heart, breaking all of our hearts—yet again. When will we ever learn, oh when will we ever learn?
I am sometimes asked why I continue to lead the Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete after more than 20 years. I am also asked why I don’t lead pilgrimages to other parts of Greece where Goddesses were also worshipped. One of the answers to these questions is that in Crete I am not simply teaching about the existence of Goddess worship, but also about the possibility that cultures can live without celebrating violence, war, and domination.
For many people the idea that a relatively “advanced” civilization could exist without violence and war is considered to be a romantic fantasy, a dream of a golden age that never existed. This is the “party line” in the academy today—as it always has been.
Archaeologists of Crete call attention to “fortress-like” walls at Petras, to a “watchtower” in the gorge near Kato Zakros, and to a small number of “swords.” But they have not found any evidence of military graves during the period before the Mycenean invasions. Images of kings bearing weapons and of armies are common in other cultures in the ancient Near East. If the Minoans had kings who ruled by force, surely they would have pictured themselves as the leaders of armies. For me the absence of such images is the most telling “evidence” that kings and armies did not rule in ancient Crete.
When Arthur Evans excavated Crete he described the culture as peaceful. He also stated that the major deity was a Goddess of nature. However, he assumed that the culture must have been created and ruled by male elites. Though he never found an image of “King Minos,” he re-created a fresco that he named the “Priest-King” or the “Prince of the Lilies.” Many scholars now believe that the “crown” Evans placed on the head of the “Priest-King” belonged not to him—but to a griffon. Still scholars continue to assume that “elites” must have ruled in ancient Crete.
For example, it is argued that only (male) elites could have supervised large-scale building projects such as the “palace” of Knossos–and that large buildings must have been built with conscripted or slave labor. Yet recent scholarship suggests that mighty Stonehenge may have been built through communal effort during a time when there were no elites. Why could this not have occurred at Knossos as well?
Marija Gimbutas wrote that the field of archaeology is ruled by “indolent” assumptions that ancient societies were like our own. Scholars now attack her for “imagining” a “golden age.” What they don’t recognize is that they are “assuming” that societies must be ruled by violence and domination. Such assumptions are not only indolent, but also self-serving. They perpetuate the “illusion” that “classical Greece,” a society that was patriarchal and warlike, represents the beginning of “civilization,” a view that has justified colonial conquest and domination by “the West” up to the present day. The assumption that patriarchy and war are “in the nature of things” also justifies what Barbara Lee has called “endless war.”
Why is there such an aversion to the idea that Societies of Peace ever existed? Could it be that the very idea that they might have undermines deeply held assumptions that patriarchy and war are right–or if not right, then at least necessary? Would consideration of alternatives to patriarchy and war force us to confront the fact that “our” civilization is “built upon” injustice? Could Mary Daly be correct that the “Unholy Trinity” at the base of western culture (and others) is “Rape, Genocide, and War”?
Is the thought that they could be right the reason why Marija Gimbutas and Mary Daly must be dismissed as crazy?
It is time for those of us who believe that there has been and could be “another way” to speak up—in our millions. That is why I signed Barbara Lee’s petition. Barbara Lee is not crazy. I am not crazy either. Barbara Lee speaks for me. Please consider signing her petition too.
Stop Endless War
On September 14, 2001, in the fog of 9/11, Congress voted to give the President expanded war powers. These powers made it much easier for any President to engage in acts of war. Since that fateful day, thousands of American troops and many innocent civilians have lost their lives based on the overly broad authorization for force which functions as a blank check for war without end.
If you’re outraged by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone strikes and warrantless wiretapping, we can help stop them if we repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Barbara Lee and other members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have introduced the War Authorization Review and Determination Act. Our goal is to obtain 150,000 citizen co-sponsors.
We, the undersigned, say it’s time to pass the War Authorization Review and Determination Act. We want to stop endless war.
Published in different form on Feminism and Religion.
Carol P. Christ has just returned from the spring Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete which she leads through Ariadne Institute–early bird special for the fall tour until June 25. Carol can be heard in a recent interviews on Goddess Alive Radio and Voices of Women. Carol is a founding mother in feminism and religion and women’s spirituality. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Follow Carol on GoddessCrete on Twitter.
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