By William Bond and Pamela Suffield
IN THE WESTERN WORLD, we are all familiar with the concept of a male god, whether the idea comes from Christianity, Judaism or Mohammedanism. When we think of a male god, at the back of our minds is a picture of an old man in the sky, who has a certain set of laws, rules and regulations we must all obey. If we follow these rules we will be loved and approved of by god, but if we disobey, we will be condemned and punished. Even today, when the power of this belief has been weakened, and many do not believe in a god at all, the image of Jehovah from the Old Testament is still very strong. Though we may consciously reject this view of god, subconsciously and within the structures of our society, the idea lives on. When we feel we have done the wrong thing, or 'sinned', we tend to feel guilty or unworthy in some way, and expect punishment. It is so ingrained in us, that to a large extent the 'Jehovah' figure is the only way we can envisage God. We appear to have only two choices; either this male god exists or there is no God at all.
Jesus Christ, through the teachings that have come down to us in the New Testament, attempted to offer an alternative, by describing a God of Love, who loves us all no matter what we do or who we are. Unfortunately, even though Christianity attempts to uphold the teachings of Christ, we find when we discuss the nature of God with many Christians, that they are still heavily influenced by the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and see God as wrathful, judgmental and punishing unless you 'get it right'.
However, in the second half of the Twentieth Century, another concept of God has appeared. This time God is not a man but a woman. Its promulgators talk about 'the Great Goddess' or 'the Great Mother', who existed in the Western World before the advent of male-centred religions and before Christianity achieved its dominance of the whole of Europe. Many books have been written on the necessity for our society to turn towards the Great Mother, who has been ignored in the Western world for millenia.
On the face of it, assessing the idea of a female Creator in a purely intellectual way, it seems quite ridiculous. Why should it matter whether God is male or female? Surely a Supreme Deity is beyond being male or female at all. Eastern religions like Buddhism and Taoism already accept the genderlessness of God. In Taoism, we are presented with the concept of the 'Tao', which means 'The Way'. There is no entity or image which can be worshipped or appealed to. Buddhism is similar, but since its ideas were taught by an historical man, Gautama Buddha, he is the one worshipped, despite the fact that he insisted he was not a God.
If we were assessing the nature of God in an entirely logical way, the concept of 'The Tao' would be the truest representation, since it perceives of a supreme entity as pure energy, beyond all ideas of human form and character. The trouble with this idea is that human beings find it difficult to grasp what the Tao is really like. It is ever mysterious, and beyond the comprehension of our limited minds. We seem to need an image that we can relate to, that we can understand in human terms. The truest representation of God which we can grasp, and which fits in with our growing ideas of a loving deity, is of God as the Great Mother. A masculine god is omnipotent, but judges, condemns and gives only limited love. His power is used to punish transgressors and reward the faithful. Man does the same. However, when you think of a mother, the picture is different. An ideal mother gives her children unconditional love which never changes. No matter what the child does, it will always be loved, supported in its growth, and nourished by the mother. Even if the child abuses her or commits horrendous crimes within society, this love never disappears. A wise mother obviously encourages loving behaviour, and discourages mistakes, but her love never wavers.
When we think of the Great Mother, we are thinking of an entity who will love us all, for ever, because we are her creations,- her children, to use the earthly metaphor. This is a completely different picture from the one drawn by belief in a male god, which relies on the threat of punishment, or withdrawal of love and rewards, to keep us in line. Since it is now time for the 'feminine' side of our Creator to be accepted and valued by men, it makes sense to worship a female deity. Only in this way will we begin to balance our society, which has denigrated and denied The Great Mother's gifts for millenia.
As we all know, in our society there are many people who do not obey the rules of the Church and still escape punishment. Some of them seem to flout all of the laws of society and religion yet still prosper and thrive. Others obey all the rules, behave in a very humble and loving way, yet seem to receive no reward for their actions. They are often despised and taken advantage of. The Church avoids the implications of this by saying that such people will be happy in the afterlife, and the others will go to Hell. Since this is only a speculation, it is of little practical help to those suffering in the here and now. The priests of the god can only offer a better life when we are dead - what they cannot deliver is happiness and joy now. In contrast to this, the priestesses of the Great Mother can promise peace, joy and paradise on this Earth while we are alive.
To be in paradise does not require us to be disciplined and sacrificial for the sake of future rewards; all it requires is a change in attitude. In the world of the god, whether it is the one reflected to us through Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism or Science (which is our latest male religion) we are offered a world of conflict and fear. We have to accept rules and regulations to keep us in check; we have to accept the masculine world of aggression and conquest, whether it is conquest of ourselves or others. All harmonious ideas of joy and happiness are looked down on as impossible, leaving us with only suffering as the route to salvation. In this world view, we learn and achieve only through struggle and pain, so it becomes an inevitable and necessary part of existence.
When we look to the Feminine and the Great Mother, there is a different perspective. The Great Mother will always look after us, no matter what we do and no matter what we believe in or say. There is no requirement to subscribe to a particular religion or way of behaving to 'earn' her love - she loves us all, and equally, anyway. The Feminine is a concept of harmony, of bringing together, of joy and peace. The priests of the god see a world that is out of harmony with itself, where only the strongest survive and the weakest go to the wall. This is not necessary.
The feminine world-view shows us harmony in everything - on Earth, and in the whole of Creation. This idea of the essential harmoniousness of creation was recently brought out very clearly in the book 'Gaia' by James Lovelock. It is interesting that he named his book after the ancient Earth Goddess, who was worshipped as the original deity. Though she was at one time acknowledged as the first to emerge from the primaeval state of Chaos, later male-dominated cultures devalued her and placed the sky gods like Uranus and Zeus above her.
The truth of existence is that how we see the earth we live on and our fellow human beings, shapes our lives. Our desires and fears act as magnets, drawing towards us the reality which we feel is the 'true' one. If we believe in conflict and limited love, that if we do not behave in a certain way we will not be loved or rewarded, then this will be the reality we create. We will become aggressive or defensive towards other people because we expect them to hurt us or exploit us. This in turn attracts to us the very aggression we fear, and confirms our beliefs. If we believe that only the strongest and most ruthless survive, and that this is by divine order, then we will have no qualms about exploiting the earth and our fellow man. But always lurking will be the fear that someone even stronger or more ruthless will snatch everything we have won away from us. If we also allow ourselves to judge others and find them better or worse than us, stronger or weaker, then we live in fear of others judging us. We create a god who does this when we die, sending some to Heaven and the rest to Hell based on his judgement of our worth.
The history of our species for the last few thousand years has been centred on conflict. Our idea of 'right' is based on force, which is a particularly male attribute. A good example of this can be seen if we look at the Falklands war. Britain sent a Task Force to the Falkland Islands to retake them from Argentina. If Britain had not possessed a strong Navy and Army then the Islands would now belong to Argentina. Each side in the conflict believed that justice was on its side, yet it was superior strength which prevailed. Although in many ways we are more enlightened than in the past, our society is still based on the idea that 'might is right'. The boundaries of countries, the distribution of wealth and land and the use of a particular language, owe their existence to the use of force on weaker people. Within each country, an unwritten law states that the more powerful you are, the more you can ignore the law and the rights of others less powerful than you. Once you have accumulated wealth and power by the use of aggression, then you invoke the force of the Law, the Police and Religion to prevent other equally rapacious people from relieving you of your booty. In such a world, no-one can be happy. Even if you are strong and successful, there is always fear that one day your strength and aggression will fail and you will become prey to others.
But if we were to return to worshipping the Great Mother, our direction would inevitably be towards harmony. There would therefore be less likelihood of aggression towards others, and even less likelihood of aggression towards ourselves. Since we would look for evidence of harmony, it would be there, and since no-one would be perceived as a threat to us, we would not provoke aggression in others or draw it to ourselves. We would be more likely to co-operate with our fellow man and have no reason to exploit him. In a harmonious Universe there is no need to fight for what you need - all resources, whether material, emotional or spiritual, are available to everyone because they believe that this is the case. The idea of scarcity can only exist when there is fear that you may miss out on something that you need, and that only you can provide it, by right behaviour, force or belonging to the 'right' religion or group.
There would be no reason for anyone to feel unworthy, as we do now, because we would know that we are loved by the Great Mother. Though we may make mistakes, this in no way changes her love, and she is always ready to help and support us. We would no longer have the inner conflicts bequeathed to us by the male priests of the god, reflecting in the world as strife and struggle, thus allowing us to live at peace with ourselves and the world.
Unfortunately, throughout recorded history, we have only known a patriarchal society. Though there is some evidence that matercentric (guided by women) societies have existed, we have no real way of telling how they functioned. All evidence that these societies existed, and were harmonious, was ruthlessly suppressed by the male-dominated cultures who took over from them, and where it could not be eliminated, was reinterpreted to support the ideas of the prevailing religion and culture. However, there are stories of a Golden Age, which existed before recorded history, in many religions and mythologies. In the East, the 'Tao Te Ching' talks of a time when everyone lived in harmony, and catalogues the changeover from this period of peace to the present patriarchal society. Initially, in this Golden Age, there was no conflict of any kind, nor any rules and laws. Gradually, these were introduced until we arrived by slow degrees at our present fear-ridden society.
Today, society is yet again changing, and we will in the future progress into another matercentric society. Obviously, there will be those who oppose this, some because they wish to retain patriarchy, and others because they believe that the ideal society is one in which men and women are equal. This is not yet possible, even if we could define what 'equal' means. As recent research has shown, ( in 'Brain Sex' by Anne Moir and David Jessel) there is a fundamental difference between the male and female brain, which manifests itself in the way men and women think and feel. While men can ignore feelings, and rely on 'logic' to make decisions, it is necessary for our evolution to move into a female-centred society, one in which we worship a female deity and in which men can learn to care for others.
It is possible that in the far future we will have a society in which neither sex is dominant, but at our present stage of evolution, it is spiritually necessary and inevitable that we move into a matercentric society, as we will explain in subsequent chapters. This will benefit both men and women. At the moment, our patriarchal society, with its many rules and regulations, intolerance and aggression, gives immense advantages to men, because it reflects their way of seeing the world. There is no real way that women, or men for that matter, can achieve equality in such a society. We are seeing a drive for freedom within many countries of the World, and a growing acceptance of other's ways of living. Many patriarchal structures which restrict freedom are being eroded or destroyed. In this climate, women will be far less disadvantaged than before, because they have less need for order and hierarchy than men, and because men will not be able to use aggression and logic in the same ruthless way they are accustomed to. As men see that women's ability to mobilise both intellect and feeling in decision-making leads to greater stability, they will no longer wish to dominate. They will see clearly that they will be far happier directed by women than by other men, and gladly allow them to guide society.
First published in "Gospel of the Goddess" available from. -
Printed version available from.-