by Pamela Suffield
Truly patriarchal males see themselves as God. Strange but true. In a patriarchal system, the male god is merely a projection of society's ideas about ideal masculinity, without any balance from what has been designated as 'feminine' and therefore inferior. God is therefore Man writ large, living in the sky, and is naturally interested in much the same things as man below. This god gave man dominion over the birds and the beasts (how convenient) and he has used this to kill, enslave and exterminate those species he wished to, as well as despoiling the Earth they inhabit.
Man could only do this by feeling himself separate from the animal kingdom, so separate in fact, that he can no longer feel the pain of what he hurts. He can no longer, then, feel his own pain, since everything is really connected to him, whether he accepts this or not. His approaching re-connection with animals, the Earth, women, children and other men will involve massive changes in his feelings. Once he allows himself to feel the pain of others, he will inevitably have to feel his own - which is the pain of separation from the Great Mother while he is on the path of his god. This he may resist for a long time, since it will seem to interfere with his god-given right to be totally independent, selfish and self-creating.
In a rampantly patriarchal man, most feelings are totally disdained. He is virtually an automaton. Only those emotions concerned with conquest and subjugation are important, because they can help him achieve his goals. Triumph at the defeat of an enemy, for example, is retained. It is safe, because it reinforces separation. Anger is also acceptable, because it fuels his determination to revenge himself on those he feels have wronged him, and reinforces his view of the world as composed entirely of winners and losers. The truly patriarchal man feels hurt pride when anything happens which he sees as defeat. The blow to his ego is devastating, He will bide his time, and make another attempt to triumph when he feels strong enough to attack. This is vital to his ego, but naturally leads to an escalating spiral destruction, with neither side within a conflict ever giving up the fight while there is a chance of winning some sort of victory. It is nothing to him if lives are lost, cities are destroyed and the environment blasted. His feelings are only concerned with retaliation, winning and restoring his sense of himself as an individual who is important.
So a military leader can order thousands of men to die for their country - without feeling. He can order the slaughter of women and children - without feeling. He will allow himself no empathy with those who are killed as a result of his actions, because at the level of his feelings, they simply do not exist. They are therefore dispensable.
There are many more examples of this lack of feeling at a more mundane level. Let's take a stereotype to illustrate the phenomenon clearly. A Victorian paterfamilias never questioned his divinely ordained right to arrange his family life to suit himself. His wife existed to create domestic harmony and supply his needs without question. Her feelings were irrelevant. Any complaints, god forbid, could be dealt with easily, by invoking the Bible, social rules, economic power, derision, or as a last resort, violence. If he used her sexually just to produce children, he had no qualms about taking his other sexual pleasures with prostitutes, who formed a substantial part of the female population in Victorian times. Children came even lower down the pecking order. Their feelings were of no consequence, and their only task was to quietly obey the dictates of their Father, the state and the god. Ditto the servants, since we are talking about a middle-class family here.
The only way the Victorian father could cope with all this controlling of others in his own interest was by a developed capacity to ignore the feelings of others - their pain, their unfulfilled needs, their very self-hood. He felt satisfaction at their obedience, anger if they were not tractable, and very little else. The list is endless. A slave owner can only enslave if he has no feelings for the suffering of those he chains. A terrorist can only plant bombs if he has no compassion for the victims of the explosion. A rapist can only rape if he allows no identification with the humiliation he causes. Indeed, a man may go further and find that hurting other people gives him tremendous satisfaction, and is some sort of 'repayment' for pain he sees himself as having suffered at the hands of others more powerful.
Grubbing around in the feelings of the average patriarchal man is not a pleasant experience, but it is quite instructive. We know that we all have a capacity to kill others, to be completely selfish and aggressive, as well as being nurturing, self-sacrificial and supportive etc. As human beings we contain all possibilities within us, but we choose to acknowledge and act out only some of these. The patriarchal man excludes empathy, because it might lead you to becoming 'soft' or 'womanish.' You are likely to be exploited because you can be deviated from your actions by the needs and suffering of others. The answer to any stirring feelings of identification with the 'other' is to stiffen up, eliminate or control the feelings and become ruthless. The roots of this last word lie in the Old English word 'routh', which meant pity, so you are, in effect, instructing yourself to act without pity for others. If the patriarchal man began to acknowledge that other people are connected to him, and that his desires are not the only ones which have a right to be fulfilled, he would immediately collide with the demands of his ego, which is now not only supremely uninterested in the needs of others, but stronger than the promptings of unconditional love. So he suppresses all knowledge of his oneness with everything, at the level of his emotions, and concentrates on himself. After sufficient practice, this becomes second nature, and he loses touch at a conscious level with pity, compassion and love. He may retain all sorts of intellectual ideas about the Brotherhood of man, and pay lip-service to notions of Justice, Equality etc., but when push comes to shove, he always puts himself first.
Patriarchal man simply does not know how stunted he is. He can't see the use for most feelings. He has employed such a narrow range of emotions for so long, and for his own egocentric purposes, that he is at a loss to know what a matercentric person is talking about in the area of compassion and love. Give him a goals and he'll strive for it, give him a wrong and he'll fight someone to death to right it, but give him a crying child who needs comfort and he's lost.
Anyone who furthers the ends of patriarchal man is smiled on and approved of. Anyone who does not is disapproved of, or hated. It's that simple. He has no tolerance for different philosophies and ways of being, but he will act affably towards you if you stroke his ego, help him to achieve his goals or supply him with what he wants. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this means he cares about you. As soon as you stop giving him what he wants he will stop being nice to you. He can co-operate perfectly well with others when it suits him, particularly if there's a reward involved, like promotion or the conquest of a collective enemy (another business, another country, another football team). It's always a temporary phenomenon. Once the war's over, the drug dealer's been caught, the other team's relegated to the second division, he falls back into competition, which was what it was all about in the first place. The co-operation was very handy in giving him an edge in a conflict situation; safety net in numbers, but it was a means to an end - his winning.
As a teenager, I enjoyed Science Fiction a great deal. I read masses of 'pulp' novels, often with a scantily clad female on the cover, or a man with a ray-gun shooting an alien. A common theme was the invasion of Earth by aliens. They might do this secretly, by planting their people in disguise, or they might land in a flotilla of spaceships and order us to obey them. I loved these stories, I have to confess, but even I became bored with the inevitable storylines about the banding together of all the warring nations so that the aliens could be defeated. Global co-operation is achieved for the first time, hooray, and the nasty invaders are repelled. What we are not shown in the quarreling which resumes as soon as the last alien is blasted to pieces by the United Terran forces. But it would be inevitable, since the need to identify and conquer an enemy is still there.
That's the truly patriarchal man, then; severely truncated feeling nature because he's developing his ego and satisfying his own desires. If you don't really care about other people, life becomes so much simpler, doesn't it? You only have to consider yourself. Everyone else is a pawn in your game. What, meanwhile, is happening to the patriarchal woman? She is of course still connected to the Great Mother, but she's been fed a lot of patriarchal ideas, and gradually accepted them. She has no confidence in herself, and believes that she exists to serve others by caring for them physically and emotionally. She has been told that 'love' consists of placing a man's needs before her own, and looking after children, the sick and the elderly. Whatever else she might do in addition to this, she must remember that it is with the permission of a man and his male deity.
She goes along with this, as far as she can. She has been told that her very nature is bound up with caring for others, not herself, so she tries very hard not to have needs. She probably has very few, and truthfully rejoices in the well-being of her husband and children. However, she's also been told that her feelings of love for everyone are highly dangerous, particularly if they are in any way sexual, and that she is only allowed to love certain people. It is made clear to her that stepping outside these boundaries will lead to punishment, and a close watch is kept on her to ensure that she doesn't step out of line. She is meant to hate all the people her husband and her god tell her are bad. It's fairly difficult to keep alive her sense of emotional connection to other human beings, yet restrict it to people designated as acceptable by men, but she has a go.
If she feels any need for love and emotional support herself, she will not receive it from her husband, who is busy getting things, not giving them, but from other women and the Great Mother. She doesn't know the Goddess exists, of course, so it may come through an attunement to images of the Virgin Mary etc. Her husband insists that he comes first in her mind and emotions as well as her actions. What is left over after he has taken what he wants can be given to 'her' children, and perhaps her family. Certainly not to another man, since the fact that she belongs to him sexually is of crucial importance, both for the inheritance of any property and his pride. He has to know that her children are also his, since they are an extension of him into the future, particularly if they are male. If another man has possessed her sexually, she is of no value, because she is clearly out of control for one thing, and can't be seen as exclusively his property. So the patriarchal woman trains herself out t of sexual feelings totally, because the whole area is so fraught with difficulty, and leaves them to men, or women who are not so patriarchally oriented, like whores.
Sometimes the woman is required to go even further. She is told to feel nothing for anyone other than her husband, not even her children. She is to see no-one else at all, and becomes a prisoner in her own home. At the same time, her husband, who is controlling her so closely out of his own insecurity, hates his dependence on her. So he punishes her, verbally and physically. She has to forgive him for this, and remain with him despite the mistreatment, because, as he will often explain, he needs her. This is an amazing demand, yet many women do remain with possessive and violent men for many years, perhaps a lifetime. They may still love him, feel sorry for him, attempt to help him, be afraid of leaving him all alone, with no thought for their own needs and welfare. The invisible woman again.
We can see many men today who require savage limitations on a woman's feeling nature. They do not feel secure enough in the development of their ego to allow the woman to care for others. Love appears to be like a bag of toffees. If a woman gives any to other people, then there will be less for them. So they ask her to be a mini version of the Great Mother-all-loving, all-caring, but a personal deity, owned and controlled by one man. They resent children, and see the birth of a baby as a threat to their ownership of a woman. The child might take away attention which is rightly 'theirs', so they go off and have an affair to make up for the supposed loss. Or they sulk because the woman spends time with the baby, and compete with it for her attention. If there are no children, they may behave the same way towards the woman's family or friends, in an attempt to isolate her and thus own her more completely. When a woman is moving back to the Great Mother, a man's attempts to get her undivided attention by childish behavior can be quite amusing. But it's no joke to a woman who feels she should only love her husband, yet finds that whatever she does he is never satisfied and never feels truly safe.
So far, so good, but now let's look at why patriarchal man orders up this dog's breakfast of conflicting feelings as patriarchal woman's only foodstuff. Why doesn't he just tell her to be like him? After all, now he's defined her as a feeling oriented creature, he is afraid of her, afraid he might become like her - emotional, sentimental, soft and caring - or afraid he might not be able to control the expression of those feelings and keep them for himself alone. Though he might lose out on having his needs met, he would be far safer if women weren't decidedly different from him and 'more like a man'. Many men of course do approve of women who 'think like a man', feel like a man - i.e. they conform to male stereotypes. They can be 'one of the boys', and are in many ways not as threatening as so-called normal women. True, they might compete with you for a job, but the dice is loaded against them, so that's not too much of a problem. Sex can be 'just fun' with such a woman, since she plays by the same rules as you do. No emotional attachments, no responsibility. You don't have to provide her with a house and come home to her on a regular basis between stints on the corporate or actual battlefield. Although she doesn't really come into the category of 'whore', there would be the same lack of demands for sustained relationship, if all women were like patriarchal men.
The trouble is, she's free, and because she is no-one's possession, can't be counted on to provide all the other things a man feels he needs - guaranteed sex, home comforts, emotional support, and above all, loyalty. In a world where competition rules ok., someone who is always on your side is vital. The 'woman who's like a man' is on her own side. She's not demanding commitment, but she also doesn't want to bear your children, constantly prop up your ego and take your side.
So in return for complete possession of a woman's 'love', and the resultant emotional security, a patriarchal man 'sacrifices' his freedom to roam where he likes, plant his seed where he likes. He also sacrifices the need to prove himself all over again every time he meets a woman, and fight other men to get a good one. Though there might be a lot of grumbling about the sacrifice of his precious freedom, really he's spared all sorts of activities which are quite stressful. It's quite a relief, really, since you get women to stick to the faithful, loyal and nurturing bit, upon pain of being stoned to death etc., while you go off and visit a prostitute or look for a nice flat to install your mistress in. There's also the delicious pleasure of tempting another man's wife into sex and getting one over on him, which wouldn't be half so sweet if women were communal property. You try not to let that happen to you, of course, and tell your wife how lucky she is. After all, men are naturally polygamous, you say, and it's only because they are noble and self-sacrificing that they restrict themselves to one woman, for the good of the human race. There's certainly nothing in it for them, so it must be that women have arranged all this marriage stuff to entrap men into a lifetime of servitude. It's a terribly convenient explanation, designed to keep men in ignorance of their dependence on women, and allow them to feel good about themselves. If I had a pound for every time I've read or heard this reason given by men for marriage I'd be a very rich woman!
So far, we're still in the realms of the solidly patriarchal system, where women take care of emotional nurturing for the whole of the human race, and men take care of themselves. Here we meeting the woman who has taken on board all of the instructions given to her by men. She 'loves' her husband totally, i.e. she is completely self-sacrificial. She endures his violence, his coldness, his irresponsibility and his unfaithfulness, hoping that one day he will change. This is not for her benefit, of course, but because he is clearly unhappy. All of her energy goes into helping him, but she feels powerless to do anything other than wait, hope and support. She loves her husband far more than she loves herself, but is incapable of seeing that her masochism has no chance of changing him. He will continue to use her until one of two things happens. Either she refuses to be trodden on any more, or he himself decides to change because he can see her as a real person who is suffering from his behavior. Until then he will ignore her needs and expect her to put him first, however patient and understanding she is.
Like many people in a seemingly harmful situation, the woman is not acknowledging some of her feelings. We all do it. Maybe she feels that she only deserves a bastard for a husband; maybe it gives her a kick to be pitied by others; maybe she's avoiding writing a wonderful novel which she can't be bothered to start on, and the husband gives her a good excuse because he requires so much attention. The roots of her feelings go back a long way, and are not easily seen, let alone understood. It took us a long time to arrive at a situation where men feel that building nuclear bombs is a sensible idea, and women feel that men are constitutionally incapable of cleaning the toilet. Along the way, we hid most of our feelings in the shed at the bottom of the garden, and proceeded to lose the key. True, we can work out what some of them are. WE can note our reactions to what other people do, and recognize that we are reacting to a highly charged aspect of ourselves if we find a lot of emotion. If I react strongly to the thought of incest, though, is it because I want to commit incest, I've been a victim of it, or because I'm a highly judgmental person, and almost anything that anyone does other than breathe lightly through the nose is offensive tome? I can't tell you. However, I can say that these feelings are part of you, and need to be honored, even if they appall you. A matercentric person accepts and includes everything, and that means his or her emotions too. A patriarchal person (and we are all partly or wholly that) condemns other people, condemns particular feelings or refuses to acknowledge them, and lives in a world of black and white, right and wrong, safe and unsafe emotions. The words 'should' and 'ought' spring to such a person's lips with inevitable regularity. You 'should' love your parents, you 'should' work hard for a living, you 'should' hate child molesters and want to string 'em up, you 'ought' to like cooking if you're biologically female and playing football if you're male. Because as many people don't feel what they 'ought' to feel, then there's a great deal of guilt and denial flying around as result. The matercentric person, however, has taken off the corset of rigid rules on feelings, with a mixture of relief and apprehension, and is setting out to find exactly what his or her true feelings are, as honestly as possible. Maybe there will be some unacknowledged pain released, but there will also be joy in celebrating, at last, what is true, and does not any longer need to be concealed. I tell you, it can be a blissful experience to do this, like a good shit after weeks and weeks of constipation. I'm sure you can find a more decorous analogy for yourself.
Let me tell you something about my own life in relation to this. About 10 years ago, I had the usual rag-bag of judgments about other people that most of us have, usually concerning folks I knew nothing about, but criticized anyway. Because I was heavily involved in the 'New Age' movement, and therefore a 'spiritual' person, I tried to see the good in everyone, but not very successfully. I judged smokers, criminals, drug addicts and violent people, to name but a few categories, while priding myself on what a tolerant, unpossessive and honest person I was.
Within a few months, I was living with a violent, dishonest heroin addict, who had a long criminal record, a propensity for very young girls and a habit of dressing up in women's clothing. His idea of restrained and moral behavior was not to steal from my daughter's piggy bank, although everything else was fair game. And I loved him, or to put it more truthfully, was obsessed by him. I had to revise everything I believed about myself, and experience emotions I had not realized I was capable of: jealousy and possessiveness, the desire to murder someone, intense grief. I became a smoker, which gave me the opportunity to experience addiction. It was made clear to me, by the small voice inside me, that I would not be released from my obsession until I had acknowledged and accepted more of who I really was, and begun to learn real tolerance. My partner was held in the same bondage, and as appalled by the situation as I was. We came from totally different worlds, but we had to learn to accept and understand the other. It took over three years, and was a very hard time for me. I couldn't run away, because I was aware that the lesson would present itself through another person anyway. It was a baptism of fire in relation to the contents of my own feeling nature, but I hope it has left me as a more compassionate person as a result.
I'm not suggesting you have to marry a junkie to evolve your emotions - everyone has their own path - but I am saying that the habit of repressing and denying parts of ourselves, and particularly our feelings, will begin to crumble as we turn on to the path of the Goddess. I have no idea what it will mean for you, any more than I knew what it would involve for me, but it's a necessary step.
All of our denied feelings, from the desire to kill others through to our wish for a more loving and peaceful world, have reached boiling point. They are a bomb waiting to go off, a river ready to flood. Firstly, women's emotional, sexual and creative needs, so long ignored by both men and women, are clamoring for attention. Since most women still have small egos, and have almost lost contact with their goddess nature, they make only feeble attempts initially to change their situation. Guilt will intervene, or internal confusion. It's still very easy for men to squash them, and convince them that if they express feelings of need, they are overdemanding and voracious. Because women are still very patriarchal, they will see the situation as an either/or. If I get more, he will get less, - poor thing. And he does work hard at the office after all; maybe it is too much to expect him to iron his own shirts. They don't want a fight, so they retreat into denial again.
Other women, still afraid of the power of men, and feeling that they are weak, will go for subtle tactics, undermining a man's ego as a form of punishment, without acknowledging any hostility. It won't have any effect on a confident man with a strong sense of his own specialness. He knows he's wonderful. Those who are less sure that men are a special form of superior life, maybe even contemplating concessions to women, could find the old fears of women rising up again, and retaliate, becoming colder, less responsive, more aggressive. But no-one is being honest, no-one is saying openly, "I want to hurt you because.....' Both are in an unacknowledged war, and the fighting can get very dirty before it becomes conscious. It saves both time and pain to freely admit that you hate a man and wish to watch him writhe in agony, or that you would die rather than see a woman President of the United States.
Nagging, scolding, bitching and whining, all forms of coercion, are fairly useless ways for women to get what they want. Indulging in them shows you don't have much confidence, and after a while, no-one listens. I haven't given them up myself yet, any more than I've given up eating the occasional chocolate bar for comfort. I too have a long way to go. But I try to be more direct, and explore my feelings of powerlessness internally before my unsuccessful attempts to get the kids to turn the stereo down drive us all mad.
If a woman looks around the world, she sees political and economic power largely being wielded by middle-aged men in grey suits. She can fight them, beat them at their own game, and become a patriarchal male in a dress as a result. Strange that she asks for validation from men hat she has 'balls'. Even while she's beating them, she lets them 'win', because she still sees the situation as a contest, and continues the patriarchal system of competition, hierarchy and winners and losers, only this time from the other side. She may hate patriarchal women, or see other women as competition in the same way men are. This path may in the long run lead to disenchantment, and can be an alternative route to the Goddess for many women, but there are other ways.
Once a woman begins to make a connection to the Great Mother, and contacts her Goddess nature, external reality will change of its own accord. It has to, because she is no longer responsive to the old way of being, and her will pulls in different people different events. The whole world does not change, of course; there are billions of people in it, but the change in her ripples out to touch the lives of those she may never meet. Instead of deciding to fight men, to destroy them for their insensitivity and debasement of women, to exact revenge for millennia of pain and subjugation, she can draw on the unconditional love of the Great Mother - for herself. If every woman were to do this, changes would happen rapidly and painlessly within society.
It's no good demanding love, consideration and responsiveness from a man who is not willing to give it freely. But you can ask for love from the Great Mother and receive it instantly, if there's no hidden fear. If there are blockages, they must be made conscious, and felt, so they can be removed. Some women, for example might block change because they feel it's selfish to receive anything. Their duty lies in giving to others, and only when others are fully satisfied can they think of themselves. Of course, the world is a bottomless pit of needy people, so they never get around to satisfying their own needs.
Once women have begun the process of reconnecting to the Great Mother, they will begin to feel more powerful. This has nothing to do with external markers like wealth, status or physical beauty. It's self-love, and gives you a warm glow of safety and confidence. It comes and goes, of course, and there are days when you feel fear, hopelessness and confusion, but you learn to go back to the Great Mother when that happens, because you trust Her. Men who want to serve you begin to come along. Sometimes they are aware of this, sometimes not. They may have their own blockages, and are terrified of what a woman will do. They set limits on their submission, or put their passivity in a little compartment marked 'Friday night only'. They may only be interested in sexual gratification. However, the fact that they've homed in on you says clearly that they are thinking of changing paths, and it becomes possible to assist each other.
I want now to move on to a slightly different subject. How can you recognize that the Great Mother is operating at the feeling level within a person? The main criterion is unconditional love, which accepts, includes and connects. Anger, judgment, intolerance and fear, particularly fear, mean that the person is either still wholly on the path of the god, moving away from the Great Mother, or is partly patriarchal. For example, a man who demands that a woman limit her love to him alone is clearly on the path of the god. He will want to punish her if she does not concentrate all her attention on him, and fear losing her. The woman might also be very fearful, and with some justification. If she doesn't conform to his wishes, then violence follows.
Nurturing is also a quality found in those connected to the Great Mother. It can take many forms, but the overwhelming feeling you get when around such a person is warmth, and encouragement to grow, be creative. You do not threaten them, or make them feel insecure, because they are tapped into their own source of nourishment, the Great Mother, and are able to pass it on to anyone. We would have al liked a mother like this, and maybe you had one, but it's rare in women, and even rarer in men. Women mix self-sacrifice with nurturing, generally don't have much confidence in their skills, and moreover, spend a lot of time being afraid, of getting it wrong, their children dying, or offending the neighbors. They hide their negative feelings about those they are obligated to nurture, and then feel overwhelmingly guilty. It's 'bad' to resent your children, or your aged parent, although you can never relax, never have time to yourself.
Those in contact with the Goddess are also powerful. They may have no political or social power; theirs is the power of love, which includes themselves of course. Such people have the capacity to change others, not by force, intimidation, or argument, but by simply being themselves. It's really quite difficult to define this power, since language is a limiting tool, especially when using such resonant words as 'love' and 'power'. Such people do not set out to coerce others, but are calm and unafraid because of a deep sense of trust. We have all had experience of this feeling of being held safely by the Goddess at times, but it doesn't seem to last. Imagine what it must be like to be in a permanent state of conscious contact with the Great Mother!
Which brings me on to the last characteristic of those who are strongly connected to the Goddess lack of fear, which I've touched on before. The Great Mother, whose nature is a mystery to us, loves without fear. She has therefore no need to judge, punish or defend against anyone, and the more we attune with her, the more we resemble her. I know I'm talking about a deity which is personalized for convenience, but it allows us to grasp the ideas if we think in terms of a human being, as we've done for millennia. The Great Mother can remove our fear, given a chance, so we are not hampered by nameless anxieties, memories of past events, and fears for the future. When we turn to Her on the path of the Goddess, we may be scared of men's anger, so defend against it, scared others will suffer if we effect change in our lives, scared we will become tyrannical egotists like men, scared still of new responsibilities and challenges. And so on. In some ways it was comfortable the way it was, for both men and women, because it was the known. Change is scary. We try to avoid it, instead of facing our fears, and asking for help. Maybe we think sacrifice is involved, because we've prejudged what the future involves in doing.
I'll give you an example. A few years ago I found myself in a dilemma. I wanted to end my marriage but I couldn't seem to do it. After asking for help from the Goddess, I looked for the emotional blocks preventing me, felt them fully, and let them go. Fear of poverty, tick, fear of my family's disapproval, tick, fear of consigning children to a 'broken home', tick, fear of being unreasonable, in looking for a better relationship considering it's an imperfect world, tick, fear of the struggle of being a lone mother, tick. I allowed myself, or so I though, to feel all the blocks, accept them, and still feel my best course was to leave. Still I didn't go. There was yet more muck to shovel out of the way. At this point, my inner necessity to leave a deeply unfulfilled marriage yanked me out by threatening me with madness, my greatest fear, and I was forced to go. Then I found out some of the hidden agenda. I had no problems with the feelings I'd already faced, poverty, etc. What I did find was that I felt terribly guilty about the practical effects on my husband. I had to make sure that he was o.k. I left him the house and its contents, accepted only a tiny amount of maintenance for my child, and returned daily to our home to iron his shirts and clean. It was three months before I came to my senses and began to ask myself what on earth I thought I was doing. I hadn't left him for another man, so it wasn't that kind of guilt, I was homeless, poor and with a child, yet I was still looking after him! My mother had taught me this was the function of women, and it was unconsciously ingrained in me to a ridiculous extent. Under pressure, I did things that I had never done during my marriage, which of course gave me new knowledge about myself. I stopped looking after my husband, found a home and a job, and got on with the next upheaval.
I'm now willing to acknowledge that many of my actions are driven by obscure fears, and ask for help with them. Some of them seem downright silly to my conscious, rational mind, but they can still strike terror into me, and impede me a great deal. Being deeply ashamed of some of them doesn't help either, because then you suppress them, which compounds the problem. Think of how difficult it is for a matercentric man in our society to admit that he wants to serve women. There is no validation for this desire, and so he'll probably submerge it under a facade of macho behavior.
Whatever is seen as correct feelings by society will be included in our self-image, and we can persuade ourselves that we feel them if we try hard enough. Best not to bother. I don't like babies, so there! But I like the company of adolescents quite a lot, despite their intermittent immaturity and selfishness. I don't like my brother, who is a male chauvinist and a selfish boor. Bollocks to what I ought to feel! Isn't it a relief to admit it? I'm scared of a whole raft of things, from spiders to insanity. So is every one I know, and I could feel superior because I'm not afraid of snakes, inferior because I am afraid of speaking in public. Waste of energy. Face your own fears, feel your own feelings and evolve from a position of honesty. As Fritz Perls once said, we're not in the world to live up to other people's expectations, and though that's a hard row to hoe for women, we can start by admitting to how we really feel about our lives. After that, we can feel freer to decide what we want to discard and what to keep.
As I've said, a woman who is strengthening her links to the Great Mother can be transformative. In pre-patriarchal times, this characteristic was often linked to the Great Mother's 'destructive' or death aspect, and she was revered as both the creator and destroyer of life. Patriarchal society edited out the connection between the feminine and death, leaving us with a sanitized version of the female, who brings forth life, nourishes and supports it, but nothing else. Naturally death becomes part of the hidden and feared aspect of the Great Mother, and despite endless poems celebrating the great round of nature etc., something to avoid at all costs. But as we all know, the old has to die to make way for the new, whether it's a leaf dying or a way of looking at the world that has to be discarded. Patriarchal society goes in for death in a big way; in wars, famine as a man-made catastrophe and pollution, but the killing is in pursuit of ego goals like territory and profit. The Great Mother kills that which needs to die, to give us a fuller, richer life, and no coercion is involved, though our conscious self might be in violent disagreement with this.
The world is in the process of a fundamental change which will restore the feminine principle. Women will be its agents, though men will of course participate. Women will create new life, as they have always done, and the transformative power which they have forgotten about will re-emerge. For one thing, they are going to re-connect to the power of their sexuality, which will be a forceful agent of change. It's really not going to be done in a patriarchal way, by law, force and bullying, the tools which men use. It will be effected by an inner transformation of men and women, brought about by contact with the Great Mother and trust in Her. Patriarchal men and women may well be very frightened by this transformative power. A man who sees that a woman is potently sexual, in charge of her own life, and at ease with herself, could wish to destroy her as a threat to his established view of women. Or he might run away, be mesmerized by her, want to grovel at her feet, and be punished by her for having been a naughty boy. It depends on where he's at. Women could be equally ambivalent, feeling threatened by the necessity to change their idea of what 'female' means, not knowing what that might lead to, and fearing it involves being someone who isn't very 'nice'. It's the unknown again, and unfortunately we can't look back into history and say, "Well it will mean an agricultural lifestyle, worshipping the moon and ecstatic dancing from now on.' We are not those people any more. We will have a new way of expressing our attunement to the Great Mother, which we will find for ourselves. Meanwhile the old has to go, and really the best way is to offer no resistance, once we know that it has to die.
You won't have to look very far for people who don't see it that way. If someone told me that the era of women being allowed some freedoms had gone too far, and that the future lay in chaining them to the bed again, I would beg to differ. So it's pointless to argue with people.. You can offer your ideas on the joys of a female-led society to what you consider is a fertile audience, and see whether anything roots and grows, but only if you want to. Your job is your own change, and if your evolution involves proselytizing, do it. Go by your feelings, be aware of your fears, ask f or help from the Goddess. Action will then be freer from conflict, because inner and outer will agree far more than if you rushed ahead, ignoring your uncertainties or suppressing them.
More on the transformative aspect of the woman in touch with the Great Mother. Her anger. We can be pretty scared of anger. We look at what men do with theirs and shudder - all that murdering and raping, punishing of both men and women for crimes against the man's ego, and sheer downright misuse of personal power. My father spent most of his life being angry, and dumping it on his family because he was, like most men, unable to give it to his boss or the Government. We women, as powerless mothers and children, can cop the lot! Boys often grow up looking for someone to vent their anger on, because their father (and sometimes mother) used them in this way. They don't have far to look. Anyone weaker will do.
Then we get the 'New Age' movement, the rise of Feminism, and the proliferation of psychotherapies aimed at 'self-realization'. Total confusion. At one extreme, anger is seen as nasty and unpleasant, and we should love everyone, forgive them for what they've done, and never shout at them. (sound familiar, it's been patriarchal woman's role for quite a while). At the other, the message that it's now o.k. for women to be as thoroughly bad-tempered as men, and an encouragement to spray venom in all directions.
Deep and passionate anger against patriarchal men, and possibly patriarchal women, is all very natural once a woman begins to realize what's been done to her in the name of the god. It can be devastating to realize just how badly society has been treating her for thousands of years. She may wish to ax-murder all men as the full horror dawns. Certainly I agree that anger should not be suppressed, or rationalized in any way. I'm also not in the business of criticizing women who are very angry with men and wish to hurt or humiliate them. That's up to them. However, I would like to offer a suggestion. Anger is energy. All energy can be transformed or used for transformation. Felt, honored and honed, it can be used by a woman to effect internal change on herself.
A man taught me how to do this when I was very angry about what my second husband had done to me. I did not want to see any part I played in my own suffering, I did not want to use the energy for change, I just wanted my revenge, right now, and to see him suffer. I was taught by my friend how to hold the anger, see it as a malleable force, and direct it towards the internal blockages and delusions which had put me in my position in the first place. In the end it became imaged as a blue laser-like beam, which I could use in a disciplined way to see where I needed to change. It worked best just after sex, when I was relaxed and felt safe. I am not now a perfect person, who has cracked all her problems, believe me. I still feel anger, and quite often it leaks out onto those I see as having wronged me. But I have learned a lot about how to hold my feelings safely, while not censoring them, and to use the energy to change some of my stupidities. That doesn't preclude action, but it generally comes much later, when I am, however minimally, changed from what I was. I try not to dissipate the energy of anger on other people, and keep it for myself.
Let's move back to the man who is considering changing to the path of the Goddess, and see some of his feelings and problems. He is likely to be at the height of his ego power. Extremely sure of himself, he knows that is right and wrong, good and bad. He feels in control of himself and his immediate environment, and has achieved his goals, whatever they might be. It seems to him that he's climbed the mountain, by his own efforts, and has reached the peak. He surveys the universe around him, and glows with self-satisfaction. He appears to have no ego problems, since criticism neither upsets him nor causes him to reflect that he might ever be wrong. He can afford to look down on lesser mortals struggling, with no conscious fear that he can be toppled, so confident is he. Like Jehovah, he looks on his creations and sees that they are good.
He is oblivious to other people as parts of him, though this would not be apparent to an observer. If he helps others, it is to further increase his ego, and he can do this without any feeling that their success detracts from his own, because of his arrogance. He relates to others entirely on the basis of his own needs, but is so cocksure (lovely word) that he feels he can afford to be magnanimous. Should his wife wake up to her own need for self-expression, he might well 'allow' her to 'get a little part-time job.' He is so absolutely and comprehensively sure that he's innately superior to her, that he won't stop her.. On the outside, he can look quite sympathetic to women's needs, but he can't envisage it leading to any kind of problem for him; that's why he doesn't resist.
That's it though- he will never again feel this way and he may well choose to stay at this point for a very long time, until his need to evolve gives him a shove. He's got a long way to go, from feeling himself a god to humbly serving others for the greater good of all. He starts with small feelings and actions, generally, as women do on the path of the Goddess. The 'overnight transformation' phenomenon is quite rare, and anyway, often happens to people who have been unconsciously resisting change for a long time. There will probably be some sort of catalyst though, which brings his inner change to his attention. A book, a woman, a new interest in something, a small failure, a loss of desire in an area once reliable. Could be anything. He's unlikely to know about the Great Mother, let alone be willing to listen to Her, but he may begin to listen to a woman or m an who is in contact with Her. A little. As yet, he doesn't feel threatened, and of course it's possible that he may never do so, but may make the transition without any fuss or conflict. Very rare indeed.
A few concessions to women and his other inferiors won't harm a god like himself, and so he might encourage one of his female employees, make her an executive. He can now see himself as an equal opportunities employer, and feel quite noble. Or he goes home and changes nappies. Isn't he a good boy! Naturally he's better at it than his wife. He's done all this quite freely, not because society angers him to, which is a whole different ball game. Patriarchal men can be shamed or coerced into similar behavior, but they exact a penalty somewhere else for this unwanted encroachment on their freedom. They will punish a woman somehow, because they don't want to change. This is another reminder that behavior is generally not a reliable guide to tell us who is on what path. I used to be irritated beyond measure by the husband of a friend of mine who had 'discovered' Feminism. Every time I opened my mouth he would criticize what I said as 'sexist'. I wasn't allowed to change gradually. I had to eliminate words like 'Chairman' instantly, or be subjected to constant ratbagging by him. I much preferred him when he was unreconstructed and spent all his time in bars chatting up secretaries. Then, his hostility to women was less disguised.
Some men carry on, gradually beginning to accept that women have had a raw deal, seeking to help them, and losing interest in their own success, until the point at which they feel ready to surrender to the Goddess. Most become very confused, and, like women, have internal conflict. Bits of them are still highly patriarchal, bits are becoming matercentric. There's no guide book for them, any more than there is for women. They may suppress their desires to surrender, on the grounds that other men will denigrate them, or because that fear of criticism is a reflection of internal conflict. What might a woman do, should they give her free rein? What if she takes revenge? Who am I if I'm not really the lord of the universe? The old certainties dissolve, leaving a clear space for new ways of being, but it all looks very scary. If I start to look at other people as connected to me, I might have to do something, like help them, free them, love them even. I will no longer be able to look at a situation, say, 'what's best for me here', and decide on that basis. I will no longer be able to define relationships in terms of personal priorities. Oh god, come back, all is forgiven. It was just and idea and I've changed my mind I want to go back, now!
Fortunately, for both men and women changing paths, we have a limited mind, which is a handicap, but saves us from realizing the full implications of change. We agree to listen to the Goddess, which is why we've begun to change paths, but we can't see very far at all. Somehow the way is eased if we listen to Her, even if we don't know She exists, and our trust grows a little. Intuition becomes a little stronger, though we might not call it that, and we follow it. The path clears a little, allowing us to see a bit more in the way of possibilities. But if we could see exactly where we were going, we might refuse to begin. We have to be like a donkey following a carrot dangled in front of it, focused generally on the short-term. As our contact with the Goddess grows, we see more, trust more and fear less, but initially, the movement is often very small.
It's a big step for a man changing paths to see women as real people, let alone envisage them as the future leaders of society. He has to do it in bite-size pieces, and in a way which fits him. This might involve being punished for his sins, first, to sort of cleanse him. Or he might skip that bit and support women in a highly practical way, cleaning the house, digging the garden, taking part in child care. There are no set ways, and he should go by his feelings, as women can too. What he is likely to find difficult is emotional support. He would rather buy you a Porsche than comfort you when you're upset. He is still likely to use his intellect to console you rather than give you a sympathetic cuddle. It has always been your job, and he has no idea how to care for others. His feeling of connection has grown, so he can no longer hurt them without feeling pain himself, but it is still unknown territory for him. He can't be instructed in how to feel, but he can be trained in what would help you. Tell him. He really doesn't know, he's not being willfully stupid.
By now, he's lost his competitive edge, and has little if any ambition. He's not drifting, like the Hanged man in the Tarot, because he does feel drawn to help or serve women, but he's still confused. It's most helpful for both men and women at this stage to be with someone who's also changing paths. You can feel your way forward without constant battles, and with some acceptance of the changes you're going through. No one, hopefully, is yelling at you because you don't conform to patriarchal stereotypes. Both of you, whether you accept this or not, have parts of you still on the path of the god. The man might wish for a harmonious planet, free from pollution and exploitation, yet he still feels that the best way to get it is to use the old tools; new laws, fighting greedy businesses, and using his energy to force change. The woman may want a man to respect her desires and fulfill them, but only if she fits the stereotype of an attractive woman. If she's fat, plain, middle-aged etc. then she's had it. Old habits die hard, oh yes they do, and I find my patriarchal ones popping into view on a regular basis, just as I think I'm getting somewhere. There are people who are undoubtedly streets ahead of me in some areas, and they can help me a lot if they want to. But it's not a competition. A good rule is: move away from what you don't want, move towards what you do want. That's not so easy if you can't see a way out, but if you really desire change, it will happen eventually. Meanwhile, feel it all; the frustration, the anger, the impatience, the fear, and clear it all out to leave room for joy to come in. The Goddess is with you all the way. She loves you.