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Letter To the Editor

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Imbolc 2004, Vol 3-2
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Zine for Goddess Women Near & Far

"at" sign, "Reader's Mail"I'm thrilled to find your eZine on the Goddess! Please, keep up the great work!! Your article "Reconciling Kali and Guari"is a terribly important one because it's about peace, and, in my opinion, substituting Goddesses for gods may constitute one of the few avenues to world peace. Not however before certain misconceptions are put to rest. Kila, author of "Kali and Guari"suggests one such very common misconception when she asks, "Why are there War Goddesses?"The answer is tremendously important -- and hopeful:

There weren't always War Goddesses.

War Goddesses were invented late in history, by god societies trying to annihilate the Goddess. Previously peaceful Goddesses were given male war-god characteristics. Kali is one example. Athena is another; originally "Athana"of the peace-loving Minoans, it was only during her Greek incarnation that Athana was transformed into a war deity.

Although it's really very simple, I've seen even well-read writers confused over this issue: Goddess history consists of three critical eras: 1. Pure-Goddess times: Only Goddesses and few (if any) gods at this point; 2. Mixed God-Goddess times: Goddesses and gods exist side-by-side in the beginning, with gods slowly hijacking the Goddess; and 3. Pure-god times: Goddesses vanquished/vanished.

Compared to eras two and three, there's good evidence that human existence in Pure-Goddess times was close to idyllic (see for example, Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, almost any of Marija Gimbutas'; works, or my article in the upcoming issue of PanGaia Magazine: "Can a Society Exist 1000 Years Without War? Maybe -- If the Goddess Is Afoot." In this article I do battle against a few mainstream archaeologists who suggest the ancient Goddess-worshiping Minoans were not the peace-loving peoples we've assumed).

Kila also suggests that although Goddess stands for peace today she didn't in the past (" contrary to Goddess thealogy opposed to in the past when we know there were women warriors..."). But much suggests that Pure-Goddess-era Goddesses stood for nothing but peace! How else could their worshipers go for centuries without lifting one weapon in war? This is true not only of the ancient Minoans, but also for the Catal Huyukians in Turkey and the "Old Europeans" in what is now Eastern Europe.

These pacifist Pure-Goddess peoples constitute a vital reason we Goddess lovers need to know our stupendous history -- and spread it around the world!

Peace & Love,

Jeri Studebaker

"at" sign, "Editor's Response"The columnist responds:

Jeri Studebaker raises some very important historical issues with regard to the culture of Goddess worshipping societies. And there is really nothing inherently contradictory between her position and mine. The difference is that my article is based in historical times and is not meant to engage in the historico-cultural debate of whether war goddesses existed at a particular prehistorical time or not. I take for granted that in historical times, there have been war goddesses and in our times, many of us worship these goddesses as war goddesses. My statements were a reflection of possible arguments that pro-war women might make.

Many of us hope that what Studebaker argues is "true". But it is not a settled question, and Studebaker relies on assumptions made and not proved by proponents of a particular interpretation of archeological findings. The theory of a prehistorical matriarchal/matrifocal, peace-loving culture is not without controversy for many reasons. One is that the archeological findings are open to different interpretations. Another is less contigent on history but poses a challenge to the notion that Goddess culture is "essentially" peaceful because women are "essentially" peaceful. These latter objections are to what seems to be a constriction of women's nature (weaker sex, etc).

I appreciate the desire to spread this knowledge around the globe and to correct those of us who haven't heard the good news. However, I urge more caution before accepting as proven Truth and Fact the theories presented by either side of this debate. And I am somewhat disturbed that history is being homogenized in such a way as to erase the differences between Minoan history and Indian history. In my homeland, Assam, where there continues to be a matriarchal culture and where Kali has been worshipped for millennia after millenia without break, there is no history of a male-dominant culture coming and wiping out the peaceful goddess worshippers (historians now contest the theory of the Aryan invasion). And Kali is not only a divine mother, exquisite lover, but also a warrior goddess.

My preference is for diversity in both history and thealogy. I'm comfortable with the idea that some areas of the world could have been completely peaceful while others, also worshipping the Goddess, might have had a different history (to my knowledge Gimbutas never made it to India or to Africa, so we can't be sure that discoveries there would be consonant with her work in Europe). I prefer not to wipe out/revise other peoples' historical truths and differences in an effort to provide proof for a pre-patriarchal idyll. And perhaps this is why my arguments for a new thealogy are not historically based. History is important to know and to understand, but it does not have to be the basis for thealogy. And particularly where the history is contested, thealogy based on assumptions is liable to simply break down as soon as the assumptions are falsified. That's why, to me, the validation or falsification of a matriarchal prehistory makes absolutely no difference to the thealogy I propose. I'm not trying to get back the power that women purportedly lost in prehistory. It doesn't matter to me when we lost our power or how, it matters that we did and that we strive to get it back.

Thus, I stand by my article and its fairly safe assumption that warrior goddesses existed and continue to exist. I do appreciate Studebaker's desire to promote the interpretation of a matriarchal prehistory but I cannot base my thealogical arguments on this interpretation and it is clear to me that a progressive, radical thealogy simply does not require this "myth"/"history" to be true in order to be a valid response to current patriarchy.



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