As a child, you would not have to fight with your sisters or brothers for your father’s or your mother’s attention. You would not have one mother but many as you would be raised in a large extended family. Both girls and boys would be equally loved and cherished by their mothers and grandmothers and by their uncles and great-uncles. Both girls and boys would know that they would always have a place in the maternal clan. As a boy or a girl you would never have to “separate from” or “reject” your mother in order to “prove yourself as an individual” or in order to “grow up.” You could grow up without severing the bond with the ones who first loved you and first cared for you.
Why is it so important to take only what we really need? Because everything we take harms another life. I included this Native American teaching as one of the Nine Touchstones I offered as a counterpoint to the Ten Commandments in Rebirth of the Goddess.
Recently, I have begun to realize that the concept of taking only what you need is the heart of sustainability ethics, an ethical system that can orient us to living in harmony with others and the natural world. The practice of great generosity is its counterpoint. When you have worked for, received, or accumulated more than you need, you should give it away.
I am washing wet clothes cast off by refugees who crossed the Sea of Death, the new name for channel only 4 nautical miles wide that separates Turkey and Lesbos. A tiny pink long-sleeved shirt with a boat neck, for a girl, size 3 months. The channel was relatively safe in the spring and summer, even though people were pushed into black rubber dinghies wearing illegal life jackets that would not float. A pair of leggings with feet, grey with pink, orange, brown, white, and blue polka-dots, to be worn over diapers. North winds have made the journey treacherous.
I am not on the front lines, pulling wet children alive and dead from the sea. I think my heart would break.
Actually it comes twice, once in midsummer, the longest day of the year, and once in midwinter, the longest night. Winter Solstice is also known as the first day of winter.
For those of us attuned to the cycles of Mother Earth, Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the dark and the transformations that come in the dark. Many of the customs associated with Christmas and Hannukah, including candles, Yule logs, and trees decorated with lights were originally associated with Winter Solstice. The extra pounds put on during winter feasting were insulation against the cold winter nights.
Those who fear that many of the customs of the Christmas season might be pagan are right. As we learn again to honor our place within the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration, we return these customs to their roots in the circle of life.
Recent headlines in the international press announced that the enigmatic language of the ancient Cretan “Phaistos Disk” has been translated—in part—by the Welch-Cretan scholar Gareth Owens. Owens states that the Phaistos Disk records an ancient hymn to a Mother Goddess. More specifically he claims that one side is dedicated to a Pregnant Goddess and the other to a Birth-Giving Goddess.
On the recent Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete women had the option of riding up a winding road on a mountainside in the back of a farm truck singing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” or could choose to go with the guard in his closed automobile.
That evening one of the older women who had chosen to ride in the car said, “I saw how much fun you were all having, but I have done that before. This time I was happy to let the rest of you do it.”
“That’s exactly how I feel about death,” I responded. “Some people want to live on after death, but I don’t. I am happy to let others do it. The only thing that would upset me would be if life did not go on after me.”
There are many reasons for women, slaves, and the poor to rebel against domination and unjust authorities in patriarchal societies. But we should not assume that there are any reasons to rebel against domination where no domination exists or to rebel against unjust authority in societies where there are no unjust authorities.
In response to my popular series of blogs on patriarchy as a system of male dominance created at the intersection of the control of female sexuality, private property, and war (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I was asked if there is an injustice inherent in matriarchal societies that caused men to rebel and create patriarchy.
The assumption behind this question is that if women are dominated by men in patriarchal societies, then men must have been dominated by women pre-patriarchal societies. Lurking behind the question is the further assumption that there must have been “a good reason” for the development of patriarchy. The idea that there is “no good reason” for patriarchy to exist–if “good” means fair and just–is just too painful for many of us to want to consider it.