Matriarchal and Patriarchal Consciousness and Culture

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Matriarchal and Patriarchal Consciousness and Culture

Post by Cindy B. » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:18 am

Hey, all.

Since yesterday when I posted about the crone archetype and mentioned her origin in lunar (feminine) mythology, I’ve found myself again thinking about the evolution of so-called “matriarchal consciousness” to “patriarchal consciousness” so thought I’d offer this up for discussion. Traditional scholarship in various fields—mythology, religion, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, literary criticism, etc.—has operated from the premise that a distinct psychohistorical line can be drawn between gynocentric (female-centered, feminine) and androcentric (male-centered, masculine) cultural symbol systems and derivative values. In the meantime, much contemporary scholarship is leaning toward the view that our collective consciousness is evolving in a way that ultimately will be inclusive of both the gynocentric and the androcentric in their traditionally conceived forms; others suggest that what may emerge will be androgynous in expression; still others suggest that the characterization of what seems gynocentric/androcentric is an illusory distinction.

For my part, I tend to think in terms of the basic feminine/masculine distinction at the cultural level because it’s a way of conceiving that makes sense to me and reflects my own experience. What interests me, though, is what you might think about matriarchal and patriarchal consciousness as an expression of human nature, whether past or present, and in whatever way interests you most. What I do hope to avoid, though, is a virtual gender war. ;)

I recognize that these ideas may be new to some, so below I’ve copied information from a terrific web site that belongs to Barbara McManus: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/schema.html (Thank you, Ms. McManus!) The information presented reflects traditional scholarship about matriarchal and patriarchal consciousness and culture. While Ms. McManus originally included a two-column table to present a side-by-side comparison, this web site doesn’t accommodate such formatting, so I instead highlight the comparison in a list distinguished by blue and red. Her comments are from the Jungian perspective, yet if Jung doesn’t resonate with you, you can disregard the commentary.


***


By Barbara F. McManus:

"This table presents in polarized form two worldviews and value systems [called] 'attitudes of consciousness' because either can characterize the conscious attitude of individuals or groups (religions, cultures, etc.) in an extreme or a modified form. [In blue are] the attitudes and values that tend to follow when the Feminine Archetype exerts the most influence on consciousness and [in red] when the Masculine Archetype does; in either case, what is on the other side will be disparaged and devalued. . .Looking at it this way…places emphasis on the power of symbols to affect how we think, value, and behave. [In her article 'Why Women Need the Goddess,' Carol Christ affirms this point of view]: 'Symbols have both psychological and political effects, because they create the inner conditions (deep-seated attitudes and feelings) that lead people to feel comfortable with or to accept social and political arrangements that correspond with the symbol system'. . . [T]his table was influenced by Erich Neumann’s The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype…and by the following quote from Ann Belford Ulanov in The Feminine in Jungian Psychology and Christian Theology: 'Jung argues from the following premise. The psyche is structured in polarities of opposites whose interchange of energy is the life energy of the psyche for the human being. . .These polarities—conscious-unconscious, flesh-spirit, reason-instinct, active-passive—are most often characterized in masculine-feminine terms. The way we conceive of and value psychic polarities, which are symbolized most often in masculine-feminine terms, may vary according to historical time and cultural influence, but the fact of psychic polarities and the centrality of the masculine-feminine polarity is a basic structure of the human psyche.'"



* Matriarchal Attitude of Consciousness:
** Patriarchal Attitude of Consciousness:

* Dominance of feminine archetype
** Dominance of masculine archetype

* Lunar, Dionysian; material principle; prime symbol = darkness
** Solar, Apollonian; spiritual principle; prime symbol = light

* Cosmology: priority of matter (chronologically first, first in importance); primacy of genetic principle = world comes into existence through birth, procreation
** Cosmology: priority of spirit (chronologically first, first in importance); devaluation or reversal of genetic principle = world comes into existence through non-physical means, creation

* Psychology: primacy of the unconscious; importance of emotional, intuitive, non-rational forces; consciousness viewed as “moonlike”—generated out of unconscious and dependent upon it (light of moon can't be seen without darkness)
** Psychology: primacy of the conscious; importance of rational, intellectual, logical forces; consciousness viewed as “sunlike”—independent of and master of the unconscious (darkness can't be seen in light of sun)

* Spirit is always embodied; “soul” cannot exist without body; rebirth principle
** Spirit is independent of and superior to matter; “soul” seeks release from body; immortality principle

* Union with and respect for Nature; tendency toward methods of lifestyle and worship that activate and celebrate the senses (eating, drinking, singing, dancing, etc.)
** Conquest and control of Nature; tendency toward methods of lifestyle and worship that suppress or reject the senses (asceticism, meditation, fasting, prohibition of sex, etc.)

* Characterized by natural symbolism, imagery compatible with natural processes
** Characterized by anti-natural symbolism, imagery incompatible with natural processes or at least artificial or mechanical

* Highly values qualities associated with feminine archetype (what Jung called "Eros")—static and cyclical, receptive and passive, relating, communal, and synthetic
** Highly values qualities associated with masculine archetype (what Jung called “Logos”)—dynamic and linear (progressive), active and forward thrusting, individualistic, separatist, and analytic

* Tendency to symbolize and identify as feminine (and therefore highly value)—world of nature, life, matter, instincts, urges; birth, death, sex; all elements and forces which weaken reason and conscious control (drugs, alcohol, sleep, dreams); all entities which are regarded as natural and emotional
** Tendency to symbolize and identify as masculine (and therefore highly value)—all spiritual phenomena, law morality, tradition, convention; all contents capable of conscious realization; things invested with “sacred” might and right; all entities which are regarded as rational, spiritual, and ideological (political, social, and economic institutions)


Barbara F. McManus (1999)
Web Site Home Page: http://www2.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/femarchassign.html
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Post by Andreas » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:05 pm

Hey Cindy,

Well... this touches so many concepts we talked in the past and it is really cool to see all these values and how they interplay. For me personally I don't think that this has something to do with the inequality of the sexes at least in the modern world, and maybe it's obvious to some but thought that it was worth noting anyway.

Personally I can see myself bending more towards the matriarchal attitude except that I also understand the need to make things more concrete and logical, I don't feel that I have to see myself as separate from nature. It was very difficult to understand what anti-natural symbolism means and gave it some thought and I came to the conclusion that I don't consider anything anti-natural simply because I feel that we are manifestations of nature and anything we create therefore is natural too. What anti-natural means anyway? Even the inorganic can be considered natural if it exists with respect to life. This goes back to the Garden of Eden I guess but I am not sure why such a big resistance exists there. I guess we like to believe we have control ;).

So what I think... is that the world is not moving towards a more patriarchal attitude. In the larger context of economy, politics and science it certainly seems to have that kind of direction but in the individual that is another matter, I think. And since everything starts from the individual, I have my doubts (after all even Darth Vader was saved :D). My hope is that we better not forget what we really are. A balance would be nice but that is always wishful thinking. Illusory distinction is a possibility too since history taught us that reality is a matter of perception. What I really would like to see is what I mentioned already, that whatever needs to be done, do it with respect to nature and life.

Thanks for the post and the links Cindy. :)
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Post by Cindy B. » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:59 pm

Hey, Andreas.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. :) Also, "anti-natural" in this case means "man-made" rather than occurring in nature. For example, think of various technologies over time and the value that they're given in primarily patriarchal societies, art work that includes mechanical devices or is created by computer, etc. This term doesn't sit well with me either, but I get where McManus is coming from.

Cindy
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Post by noman » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:54 am



... our collective consciousness is evolving in a way that:


1.) ultimately will be inclusive of both the gynocentric and the androcentric in their traditionally conceived forms
2.) will be androgynous in expression
3.) what seems gynocentric/androcentric is an illusory distinction

- Cindy
Hello Cindy and Andreas,

Human consciousness is a strange and improbable occurrence. Consider that for over 300 million years creatures have been crawling and swimming all over the earth without this greater consciousness we humans have. It was probably only 100 to 200 thousand years ago that we crossed a ‘cognitive threshold.’ What’s even stranger is the idea that there can be two such consciousnesses. There are two collective consciousnesses; male and female, and there is also only one collective conscious: human. It depends on what criteria are used to define what is meant by human consciousness. As one feminist put it, we are different sexes, not different species. Yet evolution has been sculpting us for millions of years to function in two completely different ways. To deny this is to deny our human nature – a nature that has us on a short leash.

My inclination is to say that the third choice on the list can be dismissed outright. The differences are not an illusion. But the first and second choices have a proportional relationship that will never be settled – at least within the next 50 thousand years or so. Our collective consciousness and our mythology as an expression of that consciousness have always included both female and male aspects. But to what proportion and to what overlap is hard to say.

Here is a statistic is from the US Bureau of Justice:

Most victims and perpetrators in homicides are male

Male offender/Male victim 65.3%
Male offender/Female victim 22.7%
Female offender/Male victim 9.6%
Female offender/Female victim 2.4%

http://ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/gender.htm
About 97 percent of homicides involved a male. There’s a startling difference in the percentage of homicides within each gender: 65.3% vs. 2.4%. Yet major religions since the Axial Age have emphasized charity, compassion, and cooperation. Turning the other cheek is not the macho thing to do. Nor is the Indian idea of ahimsa. The Madonna and Child motif that was the early icon in the Christian tradition, taken from the icon of Isis and Horus, is probably best thought of as gynocentric, whereas Mithras slaying the bull is more androcentric. So I don’t really believe that our collective consciousness is ‘evolving’ so much as continually rediscovering and reshaping those archetypes that have been with us all along – that are both ‘gyno’ and ‘andro’ and ‘androgyno’ as well.

A thought experiment

Imagine a graph with an ‘x’ axis representing more masculine consciousness to the right of the graph and feminine consciousness to the left. (Of course the right / left are just arbitrary and could just as well be reversed.) The ‘y’ axis represents the population. Then imagine two normal curves, one pink representing all women consciousnesses, and one blue representing all men’s consciousnesses. If you are willing to go along with this thought experiment Cindy I have a few questions for you. Obviously, the men’s normal curve would be to the right of the women’s normal curve. But would these two normal curves be truly normal, or would they differ in shape? Would they over lap? And if so by how much? Would one bell curve be narrower on the ‘x’ axis; that is, would there be more of a variance within one gender than the other? And finally, would the distance between the averages of each gender be greater or less than the distance within a single gender; that is, the distance between the extremes of each bell curve?

Perhaps this thought experiment is bogus. But it’s something I’ve thought about ever since JCF associate SomeHopes, who studies psychology wouldn’t you know, told me that the average difference between the sexes isn’t as great as the average difference within each sex. It was a heavy thought at the time – and still is.

It’s a fun topic, though it can be dangerous at times.

- NoMan
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Post by Cindy B. » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:23 pm

noman wrote:So I don’t really believe that our collective consciousness is ‘evolving’ so much as continually rediscovering and reshaping those archetypes that have been with us all along – that are both ‘gyno’ and ‘andro’ and ‘androgyno’ as well.
This is what I think, too, noman.

And a comment about the word "evolve" in this context. Personally I don't interpret this as indicating "progress" in some sense of "better," for example, but merely as inevitable change that enhances overall collective adaptation. If one agrees that the earliest human societies were primarily a reflection of matriarchal consciousness (In certain circles there happens to be some dispute about this these days.), then the eventual emergence of patriarchal consciousness was a naturally ocurring process of reorientation--an enantiodromia--that was needed to address an imbalance in collective consious functioning in order to promote better adaptation to a changing world. Yet the world of the 21st century is far different from that which initially gave rise to the adaptive expression of patriarchal consciousness, so another change is emerging and has been for many years. Now, all this sits just fine with me when I take this objective and historical look from the level of psyche and culture, but I admit that my personal experiences as a female in our contemporary patriarchal culture (States) have not always left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. :P

Cindy


P.S. I almost forgot:
...the average difference between the sexes isn’t as great as the average difference within each sex.
I can agree with this notion, noman, yet this is a reflection of the ways the social sciences study such things. It's much easier to zero in on particulars and complexity when considering only males or only females, while comparing males and females tends to focus on more generalized commonalites and differences between the two.
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Post by A J » Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:39 pm

Cindy, I would like to include a quote from my book, A Myth in Action, if you don't mind.
The mythological archetypes, which still guide us today, developed during the prehistoric time period, in the minds of our ancestors, when human tribes formed small hunter/gatherer societies as a means of survival. In these early societies, the sexes were equal, each contributing to the good of the whole society. The men hunted, and the women gathered herbs and wild grains and vegetables. As the human societies grew, game became scarce, and the society was forced into one of two alternatives. In some, people began to cultivate the grain and vegetables on their own. In these early planting societies, survival depended on a “high accumulation of resources,” and children of both sexes were taught to be responsible, to comply, and to put the needs of the group before those of the individual. Other groups continued to hunt, but in order to find enough game to sustain them, had to become transient societies which could follow the giant herds of animals. In these groups, mobility was necessary for survival, and accumulations slowed the group down. Consumption was imperative. All children were taught to be aggressive and independent, and to be willing to take the risks that they would need for survival and successful hunting.
In time, the planters came to think of God as a woman, Mother Earth, who gave birth to the plants and grains that formed the staple of their diets. It was the women who had learned the arts of cultivation, and who ran the farms. To the women were accounted the “good” qualities of caring, compassion, and community. On the other hand, women in the hunting societies, which had to move frequently, were considered a burden, as it was difficult to move quickly with women and children, and the paraphernalia they had to bring with them. The men began to conceive of a male, hunting God, and attributed the “positive” values of independence and aggressive, risk-taking behavior to men. Eventually, the hunters would learn to control the herds and it became necessary for them to protect large areas of land. Tribes of herders first began pillaging the settled villages and towns, eventually overtaking them and imposing their religion and values.

Campbell, Joseph Primitive Mythology 241
Chodorow, Nancy Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (New York: Yale University Press 1989) 24
Eisler, Riane The Chalice and the Blade (New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1988) 14
I think it would be hard to find any completely polarized groups in our recent history. Most cultures have merged to one degree or another.

I have lately been interested in the way these groups and divisions played out in the development of the American West, as I am currently writing a novel based on my maternal ancestors. There are some close associations between the ranchers, farmers, and townspeople, of that time and place, as well as to the solitary "mountain men" who first moved onto the land that had been inhabited by the native groups for so long. There are correlating relationships, too, between the agricultural and hunting groups among those natives.

I have noticed, among the women in my mother's history, for several generations, a kind of strength and power that seems to come from their Scots-Irish heritage. The house, for instance is their domain. The men did not often come inside, unless it was to eat or sleep. They gathered on the long open porches, of hunkered on the ground outside, where they shared hunting stories. Inside, the women ruled. I observed this myself, as a child and young woman, through the 40's, 50's, and early 60's. The family stories all seem to back those observations. My own mother was a very strong matriarch, and in that family, the wisdom of the elder women was highly respected.

AJ
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Post by Cindy B. » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:04 pm

Your book, AJ? Very cool. And congratulations. Are there other personal titles that you could share with us? Best of luck with your novel, too. 8)

And among the salient points that you made, you also highlighted the following for me in terms of this discussion, something that you'd likely agree with, I would guess. At the most general level, this topic typically tends to be framed in terms of either matriarchal or patriarchal--I've come from this perspective, too, so far--but the actual emergence and expression of these two attitudes has never been so cut and dried, and you spoke to this. Compounding this is that when it comes to preliterate cultures and societies, scholars and researchers have little choice, of course, but to engage in a good deal of educated guess work and inductive reasoning in order to generate theories that seem to best fit the evidence. I can toss this wrench into the works, too, and point out that whether the culture or group under study is preliterate or literate, seemingly matriarchal or patriarchal, the general attitude of consciousness deciphering all this is what we do tend to label as "patriarchal" and may be biased in certain ways, intentionally or not.

So my point for any new to these ideas--the either/or distinction is great for initial learning puposes and familiarizing oneself with the topic, but it would be helpful to keep in mind that the main thing that can be known with reasonable certainty is merely that indeed the human psyche tends to express itself in terms of the archetypal feminine/masculine polarity.

Cindy
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Post by noman » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:58 am

Hi AJ. Happy holidays. I wondered how you were coming along on your next book.

Cindy - I read AJ’s first book and gave a favorable review in the opening post of this thread:

http://www.jcf.org/new/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2983

We are so immersed in stories - mostly fiction, it’s easy to forget that the hero cycle is based on real people, with real stories. Her book was a refreshing angle on Campbell’s work.

* * * * * * *

Yes Cindy, the word ‘evolve’ need not refer to improvement, but merely change. But I associate the word with biological evolution, especially when we are talking about consciousness/es. Do you realize how long these things take? Some people are naïve enough to think that we’ll adapt to our modern change of diet – to farmed meat, potato chips, candy bars, and soda pop. I liken that same naivety to the 70s concept of embracing the social challenges of the new age by pretending we’re all one sex. But consciousnesses just don’t turn on a dime at our request.

However, there is also a social or cultural evolution that we can fret over. This is something that can change rapidly. The question is just how much plasticity is their in these two human consciousnesses to accommodate any changes we might want. We Euros are inheritors of the hunting culture mentality that emphasizes individualism of the male. Anyone can pick a banana, Campbell says. But hunting a wild boar or defending the village against neighboring tribes makes for individual heroes. So we greatly emphasize individual rights.

The Paleolithic tribes that AJ speaks of were extremely egalitarian because groups were extremely small. It’s hard to imagine living an entire life within a tribe of 50 to 100 people. Each member would have that sense of belonging and importance that I don’t think we can imagine. Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux, couldn’t understand how the white man could produce so much, so many things, yet allow people of his own tribe to starve and freeze in winter. When we look at Paleolithic artifacts, such a goddess figurines that BodhiBliss recently gave an interview on:

http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=37

we have to remember that these people had much more pressing problems to deal with – such as survival. We’d be real nut-cases to them with our interest in gender issues and how that relates to consciousnesses and gods and goddesses.

- NoMan
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Post by Cindy B. » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:58 pm

Thanks, noman, for sharing that review, a terrific read.

And AJ, what a wonderful piece of work! A Myth in Action: The Heroic Life of Audie Murphy (2006) I visited your web site this morning, too, by the way. Very nice. :)

Cindy
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Post by A J » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:26 pm

Hello Cindy,

Yes, I do agree that the either/or framing of this topic is the usual way of looking at it. And that enantiodromia seems to be the way our culture has developed - a way of balancing during changing circumstances, as the discussion has agreed, not better or worse. I do think that in this 21st century we will see more of a both/and solution.

The Chodorow book I referenced in my own work made even further distinction between the two groups, and included a couple of sub-groups, so that the range was from strictly agricultural to agricultural with a moderate degree of supplementary hunting and fishing, hunting and herding groups with some degree of planting to groups that were strictly herders and hunters. The conclusions drawn, as I remember it, were that the concepts of masculine/femimine grew and developed from the tasks and functions performed rather than the innate biological differences. I cannot find the book this morning; whether it derives from function or biology, crone wisdom does not seem to include an ability to recall facts and details, or to remember where one puts things.

Noman, thanks for recalling your thread and review. The novel is not coming along as well as I would like. I have been getting overly caught up in reporting accurate history, and have neglected the myth of the pioneer cultures and of a line of women that grew from that same spirit. That's why I am here.

There are several discussions going on right now that are resonating with where I need to be focused in my own writing. This is one of them. I am eager to hear what everyone has to say.

Several years ago, when I first discovered these conversations, I think it was Clemsy who started a discussion on George Lakoff. I think of that now as I personally see the changes in the political scene as a movement from Lakoff's metaphors of the "strict father" toward the "nurturant parent." (Not making a better/worse statement here) And noting that his distinction is not father to mother, but father to parent.

AJ
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A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
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Post by A J » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:31 pm

And Cindy, thanks for visiting my site. I am in the process of revamping it. I've been away from this forum for too long.

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
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Post by Cindy B. » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:37 pm

AJ wrote:...I cannot find the book this morning; whether it derives from function or biology, crone wisdom does not seem to include an ability to recall facts and details, or to remember where one puts things.
:mrgreen:

I've been straddling the cusp of cronehood for a few years now, and the joke in my house is that were I ever to go senile, no one would be able to tell. Among other "forgetful" scenarios, it's not unusual that I write myself a note to remind me to check another note at a later time so I can remember to do certain things. My point--I hear you, AJ.

Anyway, back to the topic...

Cindy
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Post by noman » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:01 pm

The conclusions drawn, as I remember it, were that the concepts of masculine/femimine grew and developed from the tasks and functions performed rather than the innate biological differences.

- AJ
It’s the perennial question for our time: how great is the factor of behavior (tasks and functions performed) and how great the factor of biology. Richard Dawkins provided a great new paradigm when he proposed we look at it from a ‘gene’s eye view’. A woman’s genes uses and shapes the woman through evolution to maximize replication and survival of her genes. And a man’s genes use the man similarly. But they are two completely different methods. It might be highly profitable for a small group of men to raid a neighboring tribe, kill all the males, and keep the young women. But I couldn’t imagine a group of women doing something like this. It isn’t part of their function because it isn’t biologically profitable. Similarly, culture can’t determine which parent breast feeds the babe.

A woman asked Campbell once about the ‘woman’s hero journey’ and if it was the same as a man’s. Here are parts of his answer.
P147 My wife, Jean, has always said that she would have no difficulty, just as you said, in associating with the male hero, because what the male represents is the agent of the feminine power directed toward a certain specific kind of functioning.


However, the male body lacks that recall to nature, to the female nature that there is automatically in the female body. Now, when I was in my twenties I was living with my sister Alice in Woodstock, New York. My sister was a sculptor and her friends were sculptors and so I was living with artists, many of whom were young women. I noticed that one after another, as they approached the age of thirty, the marriage problem came up, even for my sister. This mantra began to take hold of them: got to get married now and have a child and all this kind of thing.


Yes, a woman can follow the hero journey, but there are other calls and there is another relationship asked of you, I would say, to the nature field of which you are the manifestation.


The call of the body, this call of nature, is very potent in the woman, in her own life but also as the man experiences her.


So it’s much easier, I think, for a woman to identify with the male than it would be for a male who is committed to his lie, to his particular form of abstraction, if you will, to the sphere of action, then to move back to that general thing. It’s what the Buddha did, and that was a heroic act of the first order. It’s more like a dissolution. For the woman, it’s more a matter of a specification, moving in the other direction. Do you understand what I’m saying? She’s bringing herself to a certain point.


You know, I taught women for thirty-eight years, and it was a very intimate kind of teaching, almost tutorial, so I knew my students very, very well. And then one after another would get married, and they would marry husbands who were interested in and involved in this world, that one, this other one, and those girls would often become advisors to their husbands in their husbands’ own field of endeavor without any trouble. In my mind, this is the counterpart of the goddess with the eighteen arms. It’s really no problem for a woman, if the situation is one that calls for it, for her to assume the male role. I mean, all she has to take on is a specification of the power that is hers.

But for a man this is a totally different thing; he doesn’t have that woman base out of which then to move into another factor. It’s a very different psychological problem. Take, for instance, your exercise of identifying with the knife; I would find it very, very difficult to identify with some symbol of a female life that had to do with giving birth to children. I mean, as you say, a man can’t give birth. We’re not linked to that energy system of life in the same direct way. We’re in the field of a specific action function.

So it is in the earliest art, the art of the Cro-Magnon caves and the Venus figurines. The woman is simply a naked form standing there. She’s the whole goddamn thing, and the male figures are in specific roles all the time, in specific action functions – hunter, shaman. And it seems to me that image of the great goddess with eighteen arms, she is the story. Each hand has a symbol of one of the gods, but she encompasses them all.

- Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss, 2004

Yet the world of the 21st century is far different from that which initially gave rise to the adaptive expression of patriarchal consciousness, so another change is emerging and has been for many years. Now, all this sits just fine with me when I take this objective and historical look from the level of psyche and culture, but I admit that my personal experiences as a female in our contemporary patriarchal culture (States) have not always left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. :P

Cindy

I sense that in talking about two consciousnesses, we’re dealing with something extremely ancient, and extremely innate – hardwired into our biology. To say that our behavior determines our concept of masculine and feminine – sorry AJ - I just can’t see that. Cultural engineering is not the answer. I don’t have the answer to the Matriarchal / Patriarchal culture problem - not even to assert it is not a problem. Like many people I just throw up my arms and say 'oh well'... (just two arms, that is 8) )

- NoMan
A J
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Post by A J » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:56 pm

Noman, no need to apologize. For one thing, I spoke to "..the conclusions drawn[in the work], as I remember...," and not necessarily to my own opinion. It gets back to that old either/or situation, and the either/or of nature/nurture is a discussion that could go on for a very long time. I think we have had discussions before, about the polarizations being more like complementarities, and the goal being to find a balance between them. So there is a balance between masculine and feminine and a balance between nature and nurture, between biology and function. Not either/or but both/and.

The idea was to point out the influence of function on the development of our concepts of masculine and feminine, rather than to focus on biology alone. These concepts have evolved, in my perceptions, from the cultural circumstances, and it is difficult to draw lines showing what was influenced by culture and what by genetics.

If I can go back to this portion of Cindy's original post:
Traditional scholarship in various fields—mythology, religion, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, literary criticism, etc.—has operated from the premise that a distinct psychohistorical line can be drawn between gynocentric (female-centered, feminine) and androcentric (male-centered, masculine) cultural symbol systems and derivative values. In the meantime, much contemporary scholarship is leaning toward the view that our collective consciousness is evolving in a way that ultimately will be inclusive of both the gynocentric and the androcentric in their traditionally conceived forms; others suggest that what may emerge will be androgynous in expression; still others suggest that the characterization of what seems gynocentric/androcentric is an illusory distinction.
It is the "derivative values" that, I think, are at least partly derived from function. In the planting societies, the "high accumulation of resources" referred to in Chodorow's work were essential to survival, and it was this factor that led to the valuation of compliance and community over risk-taking and individualism. In the hunting societies, the reverse was true. Having women and children in the group, along with all their paraphernalia, was a problem that had to be dealt with.

It seems to me that these external circumstances had to have a powerful effect on the early formation of those values.

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
Andreas
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Post by Andreas » Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:26 pm

Hey everyone,

Wow! Really cool stuff in this thread. AJ thanks for sharing this. I admire your style simple yet it goes in much depth. The title is amazing too. Thank you.
the general attitude of consciousness deciphering all this is what we do tend to label as "patriarchal" and may be biased in certain ways, intentionally or not.
Cindy this one is a keeper :).

Well where do I start... for me personally I find the patriarchal attitude of consciousness very bad, at least in the way it has evolved and if you think of it in the context of the modern world. Maybe it is because I relate to what Campbell said about consciousness in POM that the brain is a secondary organ and it has to listen to the demands of the body and is not interested at all in this modern game. Maybe I am afraid who I really am and dont want to look in the mirror.. :? who knows.

The problem I have with the patriarchal (logical) way of thinking (If it is to be embraced fully) is that it is robbing us of our humanity turning us into something else. There is a problem with numbers because behind every number there is a unique human being with unique life experiences. I think our judgment is too much clouded by desire for something like this to work by simply being analytical and rational. And I completetly understand what AJ says and how social evolution (if I can call it that) has affected us in the past but now it is something new, survival still exists but there is a tendency for domination too perhaps AJ the reason that started all of these can be the reasons that you state but today I feel it is something completely different.

Noman when you say this.
Yet evolution has been sculpting us for millions of years to function in two completely different ways. To deny this is to deny our human nature – a nature that has us on a short leash.
It is very hard for me to understand. I do not consider nature to has us on a short leash, I think nature provides everything you need even a conscious mind in order to make this to work and what do we do? We fail to realize it and this is exactly where illusory distinction comes in, my god, even now as I am writing I think if there is something I am missing some bit of information I do not know. The differences might not be an illusion the quantity and quality of the differences might be a very good illusion though. Consider all the great transformation in consciousness, the discovery of America, the walk on the moon etc. All these people who thought the earth was flat had everything figured out, at least that is what they thought.
Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux, couldn’t understand how the white man could produce so much, so many things, yet allow people of his own tribe to starve and freeze in winter.
That is a fact and why he couldn't understand? Exactly because he knew the importance of embracing mother nature. I don't believe that Native Americans are any different than say modern people imo, they had conflicts too war and hate and love and dance and everything.But what they did have and we dont, is simply what Campbell called the awakening of awe. Like Campbell said for them the whole place was sacred. Do we have a sacred place or it has completely replaced by the numbers in our bank accounts? So I don't think it is for better or worse but definitely for worse but I hope I'm wrong :).

Bohm thus proposes in his book, Thought as a System, a pervasive, systematic nature of thought:

What I mean by "thought" is the whole thing - thought, felt, the body, the whole society sharing thoughts - it's all one process. It is essential for me not to break that up, because it's all one process; somebody else's thoughts becomes my thoughts, and vice versa. Therefore it would be wrong and misleading to break it up into my thoughts, your thoughts, my feelings, these feelings, those feelings... I would say that thought makes what is often called in modern language a system. A system means a set of connected things or parts. But the way people commonly use the word nowadays it means something all of whose parts are mutually interdependent - not only for their mutual action, but for their meaning and for their existence. A corporation is organized as a system - it has this department, that department, that department. They don't have any meaning separately; they only can function together. And also the body is a system. Society is a system in some sense. And so on. Similarly, thought is a system. That system not only includes thoughts, "felts" and feelings, but it includes the state of the body; it includes the whole of society - as thought is passing back and forth between people in a process by which thought evolved from ancient times. A system is constantly engaged in a process of development, change, evolution and structure changes...although there are certain features of the system which become relatively fixed. We call this the structure.... Thought has been constantly evolving and we can't say when that structure began. But with the growth of civilization it has developed a great deal. It was probably very simple thought before civilization, and now it has become very complex and ramified and has much more incoherence than before. Now, I say that this system has a fault in it - a "systematic fault". It is not a fault here, there or here, but it is a fault that is all throughout the system. Can you picture that? It is everywhere and nowhere. You may say "I see a problem here, so I will bring my thoughts to bear on this problem". But "my" thought is part of the system. It has the same fault as the fault I'm trying to look at, or a similar fault. Thought is constantly creating problems that way and then trying to solve them. But as it tries to solve them it makes it worse because it doesn’t notice that it's creating them, and the more it thinks, the more problems it creates. (P. 18-19)
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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