Matrifocal Versus Patrifocal society analysis

Matrifocal Vs Patrifocal

Throughout our everyday life we live in a patrifocal society. That is a world where our corporate jobs, our politics, and our mainstream religions are mainly based on masculine values: domination, hierarchy and control.


It is a world where people are alienated from the earth and from each other, where spirituality is often linked with suffering and with escape from this world, where warfare and ecological destruction is a constant and where violence, aggression and the oppression of women and minorities is a norm.


Our patrifocal society is between 4-6,000 years old, but there is evidence that, before this, it was actually a matrifocal society. That is, instead of the deity being male as in patrifocal mythology, the deity was female known either as the Goddess or Great Mother- who is always depicted as the maiden, matron or crone.


According to Archaeologists there is evidence that 25,000 years before the rise of male dominated religions in the world “Old Europe”  was a matrifocal society. Many believe that in the matrifocal societies woman and men were considered equals, though the women were the magicians, shamans, and priestesses.


Women were revered not only for their ability to give birth, but also for their ability to bleed without injury or dying. Menstrual blood was deemed to be highly magical and women, as the holders of the magical blood were thought to be religious leaders. And unlike in today’s society where women are valued for their youth, women who were no longer menstruating were thought to be all that knowledgeable and powerful as they retained the magical powers of their blood.


These societies were people of the soil, peaceful with a love of art. They were earth and sea bound cultures that worshipped the Great Goddess, the earth.


They believed that just as agriculture went through a cycle of birth, death and regeneration so did humans. This cycle was celebrated and embodied in the feminine principle, a Mother Creatix. Weapons were almost non-existent. Their entertainment, their art and their culture was intertwined with their religion. And their religion centred on the Great Goddess.


Their daily life was attuned to the Earth cycles, the moon cycles, plant and animal life. Nature was revered and respected, not dominated or destroyed.


It wasn’t just in Europe that the Goddess was worshipped but also in Egypt, Babylon, and Anatolia. On the island of Crete the religion of the Great Goddess seemed to be the most prominent and important feature in their lives. There was no separation between the sacred and the secular. The snake, the dove, the tree, and the moon were the Goddesses sacred symbols. The Great Goddess was considered to be immortal, changeless and omnipotent. Her male equal was seen in the symbol of the bull and was her husband, lover and friend.


Marija Gimbutas believed that the invaders of Europe came in three waves between 4300-2800 BC The Aryans or Kurgans swept south and west from their homelands between the Dneiper and Volga rivers.


In 2000 BC the Aryan invaders swooped down on Crete. They viewed themselves as superior people because of their power and might, their weapons and their warfare. They were superior in the fact that they were able to conquer the peaceful nation who worshipped the Goddess. The invaders imposed their patrifocal culture and their warrior religion on the conquered people. They brought with them their love of conquest, weapons and male gods.


One thing that the Aryan invaders had over the matrifocal society they conquered was the horse, which allowed them to cover territory at great speeds.


Their male Gods ruled from “somewhere out there”- they were focused on division, conquest and separation from nature. They were the tribal chieftains, the warlike Gods of sky and storm- Thor the Norse God of thunder, Zeus, the mountaintop dweller and lightning thrower of Greece, and Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun that vanquished darkness of Persian myth as well as hero figures such as Hercules, and Cú Chulainn.


Whereas life and death was presided over the Goddess in the matrifocal society death would be an adversary to be conquered, or a once for all ending in a patrifocal society.


The Great Goddess became the subservient consort/concubine/mother to Indra the male God of war. The female divinity powers and attributes were given to the male divinity.


Rape appeared for the first time in myths of the people. And new myths arose out of heroes slaying serpents, the symbol of the Goddess. Snakes were appearing everywhere in cultural stories, but instead of being a symbol of good they were now a symbol of evil, as in the story of the Garden of Eden.


With the change from a matrifocal society to a patrifocal society the Goddess’ position also began to change from that of the supreme deity to the wife or the mother of the male deity, eventually resulting in the loss of her power to create of and by herself. In some myths the Goddess is raped, killed or dismembered, as in the myth of the killing of Tiamut by Marduk


These kinds of myths showed the kind of change from a matrifocal to a patrifocal system. In less dramatic fashion there were the domestic conflicts between Hera and Zeus, in which Hera was presented as the stereotypical jealous wife seeking to undermine her husband’s favourites.


As the male gods gradually took prominence, worship of the great goddesses, and respect for women became virtually non-existent as the female goddesses faded into the background and women in society did the same.


The Goddess societies began to die out as they were overtaken by the patrifocal societies. In the process it can be imagined that women suffered many atrocities during the times of this take over.


The original meaning of wise woman was actually “witch” and the original meaning of pagan was “country dweller”


The revered women who were the midwives, the herbalists and the healers in the matrifocal society were suddenly cast out as witches in our patrifocal society. They were persecuted and executed in the times of the inquisition, witch burnings and hangings.


The Roman Church used the term “witch” and made it into something they could profit from and exploit with their persecutions although most the crimes were for heresy not witchcraft.


It can be said that this was done because the church, being male-dominated was afraid that it might lose it’s power again and due to this destroyed millions of women who were herbalists, keepers of ancient customs, and healers. Ironically men then opened medical schools to learn exactly the same thing, not allowing women to do the same.


Witchcraft has always been around, and it seems to be making a stronger comeback in today’s society, and with that there seems to be the return of the Goddess. The Goddess is being revered and embraced by the follower’s of witchcraft, feminism, and the occult.


Morwyn states that “Neopagans look towards an idealised feminine age to heal the world. To them, the masculine age has been the age of destruction and broken relationships. But “feminine energies” promise to bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean age.”


Salem, Massachusetts seems to be having a recurrence of witchcraft but this time the culture seems to be embracing it rather than turning it’s back on it. The Goddess seems to be out in the open.


Starhawk says “that the model of the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, fosters respect for the sacredness of all living ecology. It claims the goal is harmony with nature so that life may not just survive but thrive.”


Witches attribute their consciousness to the earth and believe Mother Earth or Gaia is a living and evolving being that has spiritual destiny. Those who practise witchcraft take responsibility for Mother Earth’s evolutionary development.


Whereas in most religions people consider the deity to be male witches have a different view of God.  To them God is nature and he is in all things, and all things are a part of him. God is actually a goddess and predates the male God. The goddess is the giver of all life and is found in all of creation.


The belief in the Goddess in our society today seems to be increasing especially in the world of the occult, or as most people know it as New Age. They believe that all individuals have the Goddess inside of them and it simply has to be awakened. That, the Goddess can be awoken when you invoke or invite her presence.


Individuals who follow New Age believe that present religions, which are so male-dominated, are an injustice to humanity and the ecosystem. That for the Goddess to empower the individual there must be a balancing of energies. The masculine energies must decrease and the feminine energies must increase.


Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst says that what ails our society is that “We suffer from the absence of one of our spiritual potential- The Goddess”


It seems that to the New Age the Goddess would be a chance to return to harmony, peace, and tranquillity. That the shackles of this present society would be broken and the Goddess would be able to offer some way to end wars, and conflicts for mankind.


On a personal level I don’t think any belief in any God or Goddess could do this. Yes, there are religious wars out there, but after so many years of fighting I think sometimes they forget the reason for what they are fighting for. Changing from a God to a Goddess wouldn’t change that fact.


Marija Gimbuta’s goddess theories have a strong feminist following. Feminists seem more inclined to believe that there once was a matrifocal society.


Feminists believe that the patrifocal societies are conducted in ways to subordinate women to men in all cultural domains. That, women are conditioned to derogate their own sex, and to co-operate in their own subordination.


They believe that in order for the feminine age to come into full circle, then there must be a shift of consciousness in the world. This has to be a shift in thinking so that the goddess will be brought forth.


Patriarchal religions substantiate their positions by referring to scriptures written by men that say that man shall have domain over women, children, animals, and the Earth — that he has a God-given right to control everyone and everything simply because he is “man.” Feminism gives you the idea to think about this, and to think about certain issues such as the fact that all men are brought into this world and raised by women, but they tend to see women as an inferior status and show little respect.


It would seem that they see the goddess as a chance to bring the end of a patrifocal society.


Although we still live in a patrifocal society it can be said that the last one hundred years have shown the age of feminine.


In that time women have battled for civil and legal rights but have also managed to get religion to take a second look at the feminine role within the churches. In more recent times they have been able to take a more active part in the church.


Although there still seems to be the battle for equality in certain aspects of everyday life women are showing that they can do whatever men can do. But more so it is not so much a case of changing from a patrifocal society to a matrifocal but adjusting to the world they way it is.


I honestly don’t know if the world could ever become matrifocal again for the simple fact people have become too adjusted to the ways of conflict, warfare and control.


Whereas there was a time where the world was peaceful and in harmony in this matrifocal society this isn’t now, or the way we are. Women don’t try and change it back to this society if anything they can be as competitive as men, and are as much adjusted to living in this world as men are.


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