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In This Issue

Goddess "" Earth "" Cosmology "" Women's Health "" Reader Contributions "" Book Reviews "" Editor's Desk

Revolution Now!

Minoan Goddess wall painting in blues

Goddess. Wall Painting, Thera.
© 2005 Sage Starwalker
after S. Sherratt (ed.), Proceedings of the First international Symposium "The Wall Paintings of Thera" I
(Athens 2000).

I want to shout it to the skies (or at least to the people in the cars whooshing, now, down the road outside my early-April living-room window): "We humans once lived with the Goddess, in Paradise, and we should GO ... BACK ... THERE ... NOW!"

Or at least let me read others shouting it.

But no. I can't even find someone murmuring, whispering, or lip-syncing it. Let alone shouting it.

Everyone I know interested in Goddess is just quietly practicing spirituality in a corner, maybe alone, maybe like me with a group (until recently, anyway, I belonged to "Gaia's Grove," a Goddess-centered Druid Circle).

What about the rest of the world? What about all our bros and sisters out there dying inside because they're trapped in a God-the-Father world?

What about the planet? You know it's dying, and you know why. The Godfather "gave" the earth to "Man," to do with what he will. And man, Man is doing a number on this place!

So, what? We all just sit in our comfy Godmother corners and let the world fall to pieces?

Why are we doing this?

I’m wondering if it’s partly because of academia. Every time one of us says "With the Goddess we had Paradise!" a backlashing academic pops up, sneers, pulls out his/her dusty data and field notes, and shows us how dumb we all are.

Well, here’s the thing: I used to be an academic. I taught prehistory and anthropology at a university — for at least a while. My partner of fifteen years is a tenured professor. Suffice it to say, I know academia and academics like the back of my hand. And believe me, we should not trust them blindly.

ruins of a staircase at the Palace of Knossos

Ruins of staircase at the Temple/Palace at Knossos.
© 2003 Jeri Studebaker

Actually, I've done a bit of Goddess research myself, and last year put it all together in "A Millennium Without War? Perhaps, if the Goddess Is Afoot" (PanGaia: A Pagan Journal for Thinking People, Mar.-June 2004, Issue 38). In this article I dealt with the recent academic attack on the 1000-year peace record of the ancient Minoans. What I found is what's always found in archaeology (yawn): two or more war-camps, each vying to prove its theory right — and all others wrong.

In the course of my researches, I discovered a regularly-held Minoan academic conference. In 1998, this was held in Belgium and centered on whether or not the Minoans engaged in war. Several paper-presenters entered the conference determined to prove the Minoans were warriors — but left scratching their heads and murmuring, "Gee, I guess we were wrong."

Others, though, just kept roaring on, despite overwhelming evidence that Minoans were as peaceful as kittens: No weapons, no walled towns, no war art, no skeletal violence, towns built on indefensible sites, etc.; and, even more telling, contemporaneous god-peoples showing just the opposite — weapons galore; town walls as big as Mack trucks; war art papering their interior walls, floors and ceilings; skeletons scarred by human-on-human violence; towns built on hilltops, etc., etc.

Academics often seem to get jealous of other academics who are read by the general public — especially if these are women or other minority scholars. Margaret Mead is an example. Other anthropologists — mostly male at the time she lived and worked — seemed to resent her deeply.

capital "M" in site font in place of the letter Marija Gimbutas is another — a female archaeologist who dared to become popular with the public. And now other archaeologists seem hell-bent on attacking her and her work. As an archaeologist myself, I've studied Gimbutas and see nothing wrong with her. She does what every other social scientist does: constructs theories and supports them with data. If she doesn't preface every sentence with, "Now this is theory, not fact," neither do other academics. Yet this seems to be the difficulty academics have with her — she, they say, states theory as fact (as if others don‘t do exactly the same).

Recently I read a review of Sjoo and Mor's The Great Cosmic Mother. The reviewer, an academic, says much the same thing:

Are there "unsubstantiated claims" and "questionable conclusions" in Cosmic Mother? Yes. There are also many opinions stated as fact. This problem is endemic in social science writing — it's called THEORY, and if you object to the way these women researched and wrote this book (competently, for the most part), you'd better not look at your college sociology, psychology, or anthropology texts too closely. "Truth" in the social sciences depends on where you start the clock and who's telling the story. [italics my own]

The man goes on:

I'm a 36 year old male who has (intellectually and spiritually) inhabited just about every "headspace" one can imagine — from New Age kook to cynical academic. I know bad scholarship when I read it, I know opinion stated as fact, and I know the red flags of junk science, because I've experienced this stuff from both sides of the intellectual divide, both as believer/consumer and critic.

To me, more than anything else, Cosmic Mother is a critical examination and radical deconstruction of patriarchal religion and the devastating effects it has had on humanity and the natural world, as well as a precious and rare source of validation for "smart" neopagans and earth/mother/goddess worshipers of all stripes. (from a review on Amazon.com of the book The Great Cosmic Mother, by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor; this reviewer signs off simply as "A Reader")

Arthur Evans, the original and vastly talented excavator of the ancient Minoans, was, it turns out, gay. From the very beginning of his work, Evans contended that the Minoans were non-violent. Is it any accident that at about the same time the world learned of Evans' homosexuality, academics began building theories turning his Minoans into warriors and monsters? Some current archaeologists are even "finding" cannibalism and child sacrifice among the Minoans — theories that, in my opinion, as well as in the opinion of other academics, have extremely little support, but which are being published in widely-read venues such as National Geographic.

Starhawk says

Goddess religion is not based on belief in history, in archaeology, [or] in any Great Goddess past or present. Our spirituality is based on experience ....[1]

a woman entering the Temple at Knossos

Entering the Temple/Palace at Knossos.
© 2003 Jeri Studebaker

However, I for one am not ready to give up on the Goddess religions of our ancestors. They have things to teach us — how to live in the world, how to save the world, even. I don't think the rest of you should give up on them, either — especially not readers of Matrifocus, one of the few sites open to academics interested in feminist spirituality on an intellectual as well as spiritual basis.

I do want to take us back to Gimbutas' Old Europe, Evans' Temple of Knossos, and James Mellaart's Catal Huyuk. Gimbutas, Evans and Mellaart were and are[2] talented and dedicated archaeologists, and they knew the paradises their Goddess peoples lived in. Why do so many Goddess people give greater credence to archaeologists who denigrate these stewards of our ancient Goddess heritage?

As the reviewer above learned from Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, God religion has had "...devastating effects ... on humanity and the natural world...." Conversely, Goddess religion gave us Paradise. I think it can give Paradise back to us again. (I refuse to shun the word "Paradise." Academics laugh when we use it, but compared to the patriarchal world I'm living in, even a normal world would seem like Paradise.)

What I really want to do is wipe the planet clean of the Godfather — of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the rest. I'd replace Him with The Mother. But then my face gets red. I feel as if I'm just like those trapped in the Godfather: trying to start a holy war, a Crusade.

Starhawk says: "In today's world, people of good will of every religion are striving for tolerance, understanding, and sensitivity to other traditions" [quotations my own]. Who doesn't want to be one of the "good-will" guys?!

But when you know what I know — that good evidence is missing for Minoan violence[3] — and then contrast that to millennia of Godfather war, gore, and red-eyed horror, what are we to do with that knowledge?

Here's what I've decided to do: I call for a bloodless, non-violent revolution ridding the planet of God (i.e., war, famine, slavery and pain), and substituting Goddess (peace, prosperity, equality, and nonviolence). How this revolution will look to the naked eye, what form it will take I don't know. I propose only a beginning, a call to arms, a defining of purpose. I know this: Ghandi did not slip away into a corner murmuring, "Ah, the enemy is washing my people in blood, I'll go where it's safe and worship in silence."

I say, "Vive la Révolution!!!"

Notes

  1. "Religion From Nature, Not Archaeology: Starhawk Responds to the Atlantic Monthly." January 5, 2001. <http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/religion-from-nature.html>
  2. Evans and Gimbutas are no longer living; I think Mellaart is.
  3. And probably for violence among any other pure-Goddess people, although I've studied only Minoans in depth.

Graphics Credits

  • Goddess. Wall Painting, Thera. © 2005 Sage Starwalker. All rights reserved. After S. Sherratt (ed.), Proceedings of the First international Symposium "The Wall Paintings of Thera" I (Athens 2000)
  • Ruins of staircase at the Temple/Palace at Knossos. © 2003 Jeri Studebaker. All rights reserved.
  • Entering the Temple/Palace at Knossos. © 2003 Jeri Studebaker. All rights reserved.
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