PDA

View Full Version : Feminism & Religion



novimarra
November 15th, 2007, 11:48 PM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

~*Sacred*~
November 16th, 2007, 12:19 AM
I never had the sense that there was a difference between the importance of male and female deities in Pagan religions. What have you noticed specifically?

*waves to fellow feminist*

Tanya
November 16th, 2007, 12:27 AM
I think you will find women WERE quite important in religion, especially from what we can learn about pre-agriculural societies, where the male was not nessesarily tied in their minds to begetting babies....

this is seen in the tracing of decent by the mother in many societies, both anceint and current (including in Judism)

Have a read of "When God was a Woman" by.... Stone

for starters... its not without flaws as a piece of research but its not a bad start.

also consider.... that in many societies men had to marry the Queen to become king...consider even theodessy in this respect.....

some evidence in the Mediterranian and into Europe suggests the idea that the king served for a certain amount of time then was ritually sacrficied to fertilize the fields, while the Queen, the representitive of the goddess, remarried again and again until she was no longer able to produce children... the dying king is a very common motif which i believe is connected to the pre-emenence of women in the ancient world... and comes down to us even now in the wider society in the myth of jesus...

LadyCelt
November 16th, 2007, 12:29 AM
Well, goddesses were powerful to the people but not always women in general. Athens was named after Athene/Athena, yet it was very patriarchal and not kind to women there.

skilly-nilly
November 16th, 2007, 10:45 AM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

I have a few different perspectives:

In my "older Pagan religion", Irish ReConstructionism, woman have many of the same rights as men by law.

Cultures vary widely---I don't think that it's possible to generalize about "ancient paths" very broadly. Even the generalizations that are possible---nomadic societies devalue women more than agricultural societies fr'instance--can be disproven in the specific.

History is different than now. The development of contraception and the medical extension of life expectancy have had an enormous impact on feminism, imo allowing the ides "that men and women are of equal importance" to develop.

In history, women had babies as their primary career--one at the feet, one on the back, one in the belly was the goal. And it's a hard, debilitating, dangerous career that doesn't leave a lot of time or energy for much else. And one that severely limits what else the woman can do; she can't undertake anything too physically demanding because she's gravid and she can't go too far from 'home' because she's nursing.

As well, much of what is in the mythology or reported by anthropologists in extant cultures is 'men's culture'---it wasn't even recognized that there is 'woman's culture' until feminism sent female anthropologists out into the world and so much of the woman's culture from "ancient paths (esp for recons) that [seem to] only value the masculine" is lost.

I agree in specific with your generalization---I don't think that the Greeks valued woman much as a culture; but again every city-state was different.

RainInanna
November 16th, 2007, 11:14 AM
I wondered about that too, novimarra. When researching the Greeks for example, you can't miss the gender differences. I suspect it is also true of the Norse. I'm interested to see what people who are recons can share about this.

Belgalad
November 16th, 2007, 11:44 AM
An excellent resource: Radical Goddess Thealogy (http://godmotherascending.blogspot.com/)

It's a bit extreme in places, but the scholarship is airtight on ancient goddesses and the sociological conflict between female life goddesses and male war gods.

And the original poster is absolutely correct; whatever laws were passed, women have been seen as inferior and property in just about every culture and religion since ~4000BC (when, oddly enough, we also get the first archeological evidence of wars and supreme male war deities).

Even the vaunted Iroquoi Nation relegated women to the role of baking cookies (almost literally) for the men of the Nation's governing council. The fact that women elected those men doesn't really make up for the fact that it was the men with all the power and women, no matter what they wanted, could never have it; only give it to one man or another.

As for Ireland, some research into ancient Celtic marriage customs should clear up the "equality" myth in that region. That's usually the best place to start when someone claims their favorite culture was very fair to women, or "worshipped" women.

RainInanna
November 16th, 2007, 12:54 PM
Thank you for reminding me about that site, I used to have it bookmarked but must have lost it.

skilly-nilly
November 16th, 2007, 01:12 PM
I have a few different perspectives:

In my "older Pagan religion", Irish ReConstructionism, woman have many of the same rights as men by law.



As for Ireland, some research into ancient Celtic marriage customs should clear up the "equality" myth in that region. That's usually the best place to start when someone claims their favorite culture was very fair to women, or "worshipped" women.

I don't know who you're quoting when you quote "equality" and "worshipped", but not me. I meant exactly what I said, "many of the same rights".
Or, to quote the CR FAQ

http://www.paganachd.com/faq/howdifferent.html#godwoman


"The Celts were basically a patriarchal society, and this is reflected in the lore..........While they were far from being egalitarian in a modern sense, the Ancient Celts were more egalitarian than most other IE-derived peoples, with some women owning property, fighting, and having more rights than women in other cultures of the time. "

banondraig
November 18th, 2007, 12:59 AM
I don't know who you're quoting when you quote "equality" and "worshipped", but not me.

Marija Gimbutas?

monsnoleedra
November 18th, 2007, 01:47 AM
I personaly think thier are two significant factors that serve to mask or hide the female facets of the past.

Recorded history is full of conflict and struggle. Most significant historical events are based upon struggle or conflict. In an age when man was the crusader and the recorder of tales the logical assumption would be that the "male" facet would seem supreme as it would be the most recorded and repetative.

We often, IMPO, fail to recognize that struggle and conflict applied to the hunt, farming, civilization, technology, religion, etc. These where all tasks that required many years of training and preparation and dedication of life times to the attainment of skills and abilities to survive the conflict and struggle.

Entire nations and civilizations applied thier total capability to the pursuit of these abilities and skills.

Women where more aligned to home and hearth. The ability to produce a child far more important to the nation as a whole than the skill of its male fighter or laborer. A single man may stand before many but a woman guarenteed the survival of the race.

While the female is recognized as more significant in reproduction or survival of the species her task are also more secluded and hidden. Man is present at conception but removed from the proces of delivery. Mid wives and attendents overseeing the delivery of each new life. Attendants dedicating the newborn and delevering it to the father or awaiting male family members.

Yet the process occuring within the house hidden behind female mysteries. Knowledge passed from generation to generation via word of mouth and hands on actions. Actions tide to required actons at given times and frequencies that can not be written about or preached upon. Skiils that are learnt upon repeatative occurance yet different upon each occurance.

A man may learn to thrust a sword or use a weapon after repeatitive actions yet each child birth or cycle different to each woman. Things only guesed at but requiring an adaptability and presence of mind to recognize even a suttle difference.

We have reference of the cult of Aritmus. reference to cults to other goddess yet nothing about what actually occured in the cult or their ceremonies.

From native American lore thier are reference to the "Moon Lodge" yet nearly nothing recored of the actions or preparations for within the lodge. Nothing recorded of what transpired within or what the women underwent while inside. yes we know it was based upon menstral cycle yet not much beyond that.

So most Woman's mysteries were passed by word of mouth and hands on application. Most where hidden within the confines of the home and hearth. We have stories of house hold items being used in their rituals or societies but not much more than that.

I think we seem to have marginalized the female from the lack of understanding that the male actions of war, struggle, conflict, etc are things that can be recorded and enhanced by repeatitive training. Schools established to mass produce the fighting solider or scholar. Skill sets that could be produced and recorded and used over and over with little to no change and get the same results.

Litteraly the more mundane the action the more recording of it. The more recording the more historical data to analyze. The more data the more we find the repatition of the pattern. The localities may change but the actions remain the same.

The tools of struggle and conflict with stand the ages, the tools of home and hearth lost to daily use. We have shards of pottery we can only guess at its purpose, Pieces of hardware that we believe where used in the home but don't know for sure.

A sword is a sword is a sword. Yet what tools of child birth last the ages? What scripts of parchment is ever written to tell of the womans mysteries of life? What tales of ego and power escape from the temples of the goddess?

I think thier is a great diversity of levels of skill and recognization for females, both human and diety. Yet so much is passed mouth to mouth and changes from occurance to occurance that it is impossible to record a book of if A happens do B.

I personaly think that many of the same female mysteries and knowledges are still passed word of mouth and hand to hand. Seldom are they recorded or revealed to the outside. Their importance apparently lost or insignificant for they are so dynamic they can't be mass produced or recorded. Yes guides or references are recorded, even some examples of such but in the end it goes back to hands on practice and ability to recognize a suttle difference and respond to it.

Those clues are present in the stories and texts but hidden behind the tales of valor and heroics that mark the recorded tales. Bards and historians wanted the stories and tales of greatness that inspired not the stories of things that had to be experienced to understand and had no words or repeatitive patterns that could be looked at and say "here's what you must do".

Just my two cents for what its worth.

Amber
November 18th, 2007, 06:44 AM
I think it was probably different in different cultures, but from what I've read, in ancient times men and women were generally considered equals, because they were both vital for survival. Women played very important roles; they were mostly the ones who were skilled in herbs and medicine, and of course, they were able to give birth.
I once read a very interesting article about how the art of writing affected euality in genders. When man began writing, women became less important. But now, in modern times when things are more visual (television, etc) women and men are considered much more equal.

Belgalad
November 18th, 2007, 12:04 PM
I think it was probably different in different cultures, but from what I've read, in ancient times men and women were generally considered equals, because they were both vital for survival..

Where did you read that?

RainInanna
November 18th, 2007, 01:45 PM
Marija Gimbutas?

I wish it were that esoteric. It seems like a common perception anymore.

banondraig
November 18th, 2007, 02:31 PM
I wish it were that esoteric. It seems like a common perception anymore.

Perhaps people have taken the "Earth's Children" series too seriously.

RainInanna
November 18th, 2007, 03:13 PM
You haven't seen the "women were equal/worshipped prior to big bad Christianity" sentiment in Pagan books?

_Banbha_
November 18th, 2007, 03:34 PM
You haven't seen the "women were equal/worshipped prior to big bad Christianity" sentiment in Pagan books?

That's one reason why I generally avoid most "Pagan" books; it's one of the of the benefits of being a Reconstructionist. :)

_Banbha_
November 18th, 2007, 03:45 PM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!


The ancient Celts thought pretty much the same thing.

So, it's pretty easy for me.


1) I agree on the most basic level and especially concerning deity.

2) Me too!

banondraig
November 18th, 2007, 07:11 PM
You haven't seen the "women were equal/worshipped prior to big bad Christianity" sentiment in Pagan books?

I also tend not to read such books anymore; they tend to be riddled with other bad scholarship.

Many pre-Christian cultures were quite sexist: the existence of Goddesses as well as Gods in any given culture's pantheon certainly doesn't indicate that women were treated as equal or superior to men.

RainInanna
November 18th, 2007, 07:12 PM
That's why I'm hoping the question will get a response from more Recons in this subforum. It's funny how different the answers are depending on what kind of Pagan you ask.

Philosophia
November 18th, 2007, 07:20 PM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

As a fellow feminist, I agree but then it depended upon the religion involved. It also depended upon the society as well. I do know that a small Asian town and some villages within the Amazon are very matriarchal. But the most predominant societies are generally more patriarchal in nature, i.e. women have less rights, freedom, and education then their male counterparts.

Myzterio
November 18th, 2007, 07:33 PM
Not being a Pagan, I can't go into the Pagan aspect of this, really, but I will make a few remarks.

First off, 'men and women are of equal importance' is not a feminist view. Seeing that to be a feminist view on things is sexist in itself. Let me explain before you all flame me: by stating that something is needed to equalise men and women, you already assume a difference. There is none. As soon as people stop thinking that something needs to be done to make sure women are treated equally to men but just assume that women are equal to men in all ways other than their physical and mental state (that is to say, the fact that they have a certain type of body and a certain physically-influenced view on the world - think of hormonal influences and the like here), that is when the final changes will actually start to happen.

Additionally, in many religions women are treated/seen as inferior to men. However, this is not the case in all the scriptures, merely a societal look upon these scriptures. For example, to my knowledge, the Bible is not biased against women, it's only the Christian Churches that have put this in place. I'm not an expert on the Bible, though, so kindly correct me if I am wrong.
My point there, is that it is possible to include a view of equality between men and women in most religions. And, really, religion can and should be adapted to your own views, or it will finally crumble.

RainInanna
November 18th, 2007, 07:41 PM
First off, 'men and women are of equal importance' is not a feminist view. Seeing that to be a feminist view on things is sexist in itself. Let me explain before you all flame me: by stating that something is needed to equalise men and women, you already assume a difference. There is none.

Funny enough - what you describe is what many feminists say they are trying to do. The difference is in how they are treated, as you point out yourself


Additionally, in many religions women are treated/seen as inferior to men.

A feminist is not someone who thinks men and women are not equal, but someone who knows they aren't always treated as such.

banondraig
November 18th, 2007, 08:12 PM
A feminist is not someone who thinks men and women are not equal, but someone who knows they aren't always treated as such.

To expand on this excellent point: a sexist is someone who knows men and women are not treated equally and is ok with it, and a feminist is someone who would like to see men and women treated equally.

For example: I myself think rape is not punished nearly as harshly as it should be in any nation I can think of. However, I think false rape accusations (where the "victim" is proven to be lying, not simply a case of inconclusive evidence) should be punished equally harshly.

David19
November 18th, 2007, 08:46 PM
For myself, women, I think, did have more rights in Sumer than even now in the modern day Middle East, but it wasn't perfect, and was patriarchical, like most other cultures. I personally am also a feminist in that I view women and men as perfectly equal in every way (including the bad stuff, like I know that women are perfectly capable of being serial killers as any man, etc). While I may practice the religion of the Sumerians, I'm not a Sumerian, I'm not part of that time period. And, while I can't speak for all recon religions, I think reconstructionism is about bringing the religion into the modern world, evolving it where necessary, it's not about historical reconstruction (e.g. dressing in the same way, viewing things in the same way, etc).

Also, technically, IMO, the Sumerians prided themselves on civilization, and if they had continued down to the present day, they wouldn't spend time viewing things the same, I believe I'm perfectly in line with viewing things differently, like how women are treated, new technologies (the Sumerians would probably not have the same hang ups as some Christians, Muslims, and a few Neo-Pagans have towards new technology).

I'm not sure if there are any Roman recons about, but I've heard Nova Roma is reconstructing the culture, and not allowing women to be priests or something, which I think is quite dumb, I mean, we live in the 21st century, not 2000 years ago.

Theres
November 18th, 2007, 08:48 PM
Athens was named after Athene/Athena, yet it was very patriarchal and not kind to women there.
you're speaking of the cultural/political system of Athens, and it's hard to argue that women were treated equally or even fairly in their society as a whole. however this was not necessarily true of the religion.

Goddesses were equal to the gods in all ways (except perhaps for Zeus), and mortal women were allowed all the same religious participation as men. they often served as priestesses, as was seen in the Temple of Artemis (just for one), the Mysteries at Eleusis, and the Oracle at Delphi.
even young girls had their parts to play during the large festivals, such as the 'playing the bear' ritual in Athens.

so comparing the socio-political atmoshere of Athens with the religious atmoshere is comparing apples to oranges, and i'm not sure if it was all that different in other cultures.

Seren_
November 19th, 2007, 05:28 AM
But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

In Ireland you find mythology that shows that the sovereignty goddess bestowed the office of kingship on a king by showing her approval (changing from a hideous hag to a beautiful woman, usually, when the prospective king met her challenge successfully). The sovereignty goddess would also appear as a hideous hag when a king was ruling falsely, and could be the agent of his undoing. This seems like they had quite a key role in the religion, to me. She was an expression of the people's well being, a symptom of the land about them.

Gods had plenty of roles as well, of course. But I don't think society placed gods at a higher value than goddesses, though perhaps due to their nature (and the effects of the Christian writers who recorded the tales maybe) goddesses aren't always portrayed in such a positive light.

If you look at the tales of Cu Chulainn then you'll see a lot of mysogyny, as well as in other tales. Attitudes towards women at the time the tales were recorded, at least, weren't exactly promoting an "everyone's equal" message, but Irish law shows that compared to other cultures of the time, they were quite forward thinking.

Throughout the Celtic world we can see evidence that women were allowed to be druids as well as men, holding an important religious office. Irish evidence shows they could also be poetesses and hold other sorts of offices in their own right as well. There were plenty of restrictions on them, but Irish law was very complicated and your status within society was very important to the sort of recompense you'd get for any offence against you. It favoured men over women, but women received a lot of rights compared to other countries of the time, which is quite remarkable.

Women were allowed to inherit property and wealth, were allowed to divorce and take their own belongings with them, plus interest appropriate to the time they'd been married (and according to circumstances of separation etc). There was no such thing as 'illegitimate' children, either, since marriage contracts could be applied retrospectively and not all of them were meant to be permanent. A woman wouldn't be held (legally) responsible for her actions towards her husband for three days after she'd found out he'd been having an affair!

The Church in Ireland had issues with a lot of these laws ecause they didn't reflect Christian values, but they themselves passed a law that ensured the protection of women and children and other non-combatants during battle, which was quite forward thinking for its time. Prior to Christianity we're told that women did engage in battle as well, and Scathach is one example of a female warrior in Irish myth (who tutored Cu Chulainn).

It's not perfect, but generalising about inequality doesn't help in understanding the complexities of a society, IMHO. I think it helps to understand why they were as they were. No society or culture is perfect.

In reconstructing a religion, it's about reconstructing it for modern society. It's not about re-enacting exactly, so the things that aren't appropriate or compatible in a modern context aren't reconstructed (like human sacrifice, say). The aim - for me, anyway - is to approach the gods in a culturally appropriate manner. In understanding the culture from which the gods are based in, I find my understanding of Them has a better foundation. At least I think so, for me, anyway ;)

Morr
November 19th, 2007, 09:23 AM
Well put, Seren.

Also, in ancient Sparta, women were trained physically, and educated as well. They were treated well, so that they may bare strong healthy babies. I believe that the Spartans would not kill baby girls because they were girls.

While I am sure women in Sparta did not have all rights men had, they were very valued as the mothers of future Spartan warriors, and were to be treated with respect and given everything tha would help boost their bodies, keep them in good health, so that they may carry and give birth (and not die during labor!) to strong healthy children.

While this was a very fasciest oriented City-State, the so called democratic Athens treated women with MUCH LESS respect, and saw women as objects owned by their fathers and husbands, sometimes their brothers too. They had to stay home and give birth to babies. A lot of the time if there were more than one baby girl, they would kill the female babies.

So really, I believe that you cannot make a general statement about each culture. You have to examine it, research it, and come to conclusions with the evidence you have abou each culture seperately.

RainInanna
November 19th, 2007, 11:28 AM
you're speaking of the cultural/political system of Athens, and it's hard to argue that women were treated equally or even fairly in their society as a whole. however this was not necessarily true of the religion.

For this reason I would be interested to see what Hellenic Pagan women could add here. Is it really that easy to separate religious from socio-political?

_Banbha_
November 19th, 2007, 12:23 PM
I agree with what _Seren and Morr said. I think keeping things in context to each culture and time period as well are vital to even begin understanding.

Some Christian and later Norman influences (and therefore necessarily negative in this context) in Irish literature seem clear; and some seem more oblique and open to interpretation and debate. Given that this is when the lore was recorded, it's important to weigh it's influence.

I think of The Tain and how Maeve was depicted in a such negative light for her unabashed sexuality as one example. You don't see the same for Cu. I'm not so sure that double standard suits pre-Christian "Celtic" societies from everything else I've read in the laws, other bones in the stories and the classical Greek or Roman observer comments.

Also given the lauded status and respect that sovereignty goddesses had in ancient Ireland and the rites they performed sometimes concurrently, the slandering seems from a different POV. From those who would rather these goddesses had less influence or esteem. Especially given it's possible Maeve was sovereignty goddess or was playing that role herself as Queen, just as in his a way, a King would perform. I think impotency would be a big reason to step down for a man.

While there were restrictions on women in even ancient Ireland and Sparta, they came with distinct roles and responsibilities for the men as well that would be seen as quite limiting to a modern perspective. And as far as Ireland, there was a competitive merit based system that allowed movement within the tight societal structure and that opportunity was available to talented women as well. But they were still bound by the laws and societal expectations.

With the "Celts" of Ireland and Scotland in particular, their entire worldview was different from modern dualistic good/evil; black/white, etc. in any case. Their veiws on gender and sexuality would not have been Christian, which doesn't mean it was always perfect or equal beforehand, just different.

In Sparta the men were either of a majority underclass or taken to be trained as warriors at five. While women couldn't fight in the army, they ran their households, lands, businesses throughout the towns, after a childhood of competitive athletic training and education. And they would fight to defend their homes and businesses. There were numerous uprisings IIRC among the lower classes. The men had no choice but to serve the state in his way no matter what his talents or desires elsewhere, just as the women had to serve in her way. I think you really have to ask yourself who was more free in Sparta

I believe the laws in ancient Egypt reflected a more balanced status and the protection basic rights of men and women as another example. Reading the the history and about the culture of Lesbos during Sappho's time is quite interesting as well.

Haerfest Leah
November 19th, 2007, 07:43 PM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

There is no ineqality of the sexes in the Germanic/Norse Gods or in Heathenry/Asatru/Odinism, so for me there is nothing to reconcile.

RainInanna
November 19th, 2007, 08:02 PM
*ponders* Then I think I got the wrong impression from all the raping and pillaging talk.

banondraig
November 19th, 2007, 08:14 PM
*ponders* Then I think I got the wrong impression from all the raping and pillaging talk.

Apparently in those times other peoples didn't count. I'm not aware of any evidence that the Norse raped and pillaged their own women.

David19
November 19th, 2007, 08:40 PM
Apparently in those times other peoples didn't count. I'm not aware of any evidence that the Norse raped and pillaged their own women.

I've read in 'Drinking From the Well of Mímir; An Ásatrú Man's Musings on the Millennium' by Bill Linzie (you can download it, as well other cool PDFs on his site, http://www.angelfire.com/nm/seidhman/), that the when the Vikings/Norse (not sure if there the exact same cultural group?) raped women (and men?) in a foreign area, it wasn't just 'cause they were horny guys, but it had a spiritual/supernatural reason for it - to make them pregnant, and thereby introduce Norse lineage(sp?) into the conquered people, making contact with the land easier.

In Norse societies, lineage was very important, it was where you got your power from.

Not sure if I explained it very well, but I'd read the book if I were you (it's explains it a lot better than I probably have).

Maybe other Heathens have different ideas or can expand upon it.

Fiamma
November 19th, 2007, 08:56 PM
I personally am also a feminist in that I view women and men as perfectly equal in every way (including the bad stuff, like I know that women are perfectly capable of being serial killers as any man, etc).

And I am of the mind that it's completely illogical to use the word "feminism" to indicate equality of the two. (One would never use "masculism" to indicate equality....why feminism?)




I'm not sure if there are any Roman recons about, but I've heard Nova Roma is reconstructing the culture, and not allowing women to be priests or something, which I think is quite dumb, I mean, we live in the 21st century, not 2000 years ago.

Untrue. I know a woman who used to be a priestess for Nova Roma (she left when she realized that she was much less recon than neopagan) , and at least one who currently is.

From their FAQ at http://www.novaroma.org/nr/FAQ
How does Nova Roma deal with women?

Ancient Roman society was rather patriarchical. While we are endeavoring to recreate most aspects of classical Roman culture (http://www.novaroma.org/vici/index.php?title=Roman_culture_%28Nova_Roma%29&action=edit), we are updating some of the more backwards views of our illustrious ancestors (slavery being the other big one — we wouldn't allow it even if it were legal). Women in Nova Roma are completely free to vote, hold office, become members of the Senate (http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Senate_%28Nova_Roma%29), and so forth. As far as the Religio Romana (http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Category:Religio_Romana_%28Nova_Roma%29) goes, there are some offices that are women-only, some that are men-only, and some that are open to both. While we recognize the differences between women and men, neither is held to be superior to the other.

Fiamma
November 19th, 2007, 08:58 PM
you're speaking of the cultural/political system of Athens, and it's hard to argue that women were treated equally or even fairly in their society as a whole. however this was not necessarily true of the religion.

Goddesses were equal to the gods in all ways (except perhaps for Zeus), and mortal women were allowed all the same religious participation as men. they often served as priestesses, as was seen in the Temple of Artemis (just for one), the Mysteries at Eleusis, and the Oracle at Delphi.
even young girls had their parts to play during the large festivals, such as the 'playing the bear' ritual in Athens.

so comparing the socio-political atmoshere of Athens with the religious atmoshere is comparing apples to oranges, and i'm not sure if it was all that different in other cultures.

Possibly a silly question, but have you seen the book Portrair of a Priestess?

Theres
November 19th, 2007, 09:51 PM
For this reason I would be interested to see what Hellenic Pagan women could add here. Is it really that easy to separate religious from socio-political?
it would be interesting, but unless you found a 2500 year old Hellenic Pagan woman it is probably moot.
any modern reconstructionist's point of veiw will necessarily be biased by what she has read (the only source of information available) balanced against what she has experienced personally, and therefore not the same as an interveiw with someone from the time in question.

as far as "separating religion from socio-poltical", it may not be possible but i firmly believe that it is essential to try. without even an effort to do so one's religion (any religion) will never be in its purest form. the best one could hope for then would be some sort of spiritually flavored political belief.



(i hope this made some kind of sense)
:confused:

Theres
November 19th, 2007, 09:56 PM
Possibly a silly question, but have you seen the book Portrait of a Priestess?
actually yes, but i haven't read it... yet.

i have perused it at Powells, but haven't found a used copy so far.
maybe once i get to working again i'll spring for a new copy, as it looks pretty good to me.
(although i have to admit until i actually opened it up and browsed it i was sure it was gonna be some new age 'empowerment' tripe).

Philosophia
November 19th, 2007, 10:18 PM
And I am of the mind that it's completely illogical to use the word "feminism" to indicate equality of the two. (One would never use "masculism" to indicate equality....why feminism?)

Its not to "indicate" equality but to gain equality, especially within female rights. It is not illogical at all.

Fiamma
November 19th, 2007, 10:24 PM
I got a copy at Borders for 30% off, plus I had a gift card that covered all but two or three dollars of the discounted price. I got a copy of The Complete Greek Temples in the same manner. (That whole thign about how they send out coupons in email every week and give you a coupon with every purchase is pretty sweet.)

Definitely not a new-agey empowerment thing. it lives in the history section of most bookstores that I've seen.


actually yes, but i haven't read it... yet.

i have perused it at Powells, but haven't found a used copy so far.
maybe once i get to working again i'll spring for a new copy, as it looks pretty good to me.
(although i have to admit until i actually opened it up and browsed it i was sure it was gonna be some new age 'empowerment' tripe).

Fiamma
November 19th, 2007, 10:29 PM
Its not to "indicate" equality but to gain equality, especially within female rights. It is not illogical at all.

I believe that this is MAYBE third time I've heard the "gaining" equality thing in the last five years. It generally seems- in my experience- to be put in the sense of the idea that men and women ARE equal.


in any event, I remain and "advocate of equal rights"

Philosophia
November 19th, 2007, 10:42 PM
I believe that this is MAYBE third time I've heard the "gaining" equality thing in the last five years. It generally seems- in my experience- to be put in the sense of the idea that men and women ARE equal.

Feminism is a belief that all genders should be socially, economically, and politically equal. I believe that men and women are equal but unfortunately thats not always true within modern society (especially concerning women...hence the term "feminism"). So feminism is still about gaining equality for women around the world.


in any event, I remain and "advocate of equal rights"

So do I.

Philosophia
November 19th, 2007, 10:53 PM
Getting back on topic:


There is no ineqality of the sexes in the Germanic/Norse Gods or in Heathenry/Asatru/Odinism, so for me there is nothing to reconcile.

I'm a complete novice in Heathenry but, in the past, how were women viewed in Norse/Germanic societies?

Haerfest Leah
November 19th, 2007, 11:05 PM
Getting back on topic:



I'm a complete novice in Heathenry but, in the past, how were women viewed in Norse/Germanic societies?

This should some some of it up, they were living in a male dominated world but they still had many more rights than other women of their time. Some things were not always equal but equal enough I think.

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/society/text/women.htm

And from the Odinic Rite....


In Odinism, we see that both the Gods and Goddesses have crucial roles relative to life's picture, and each God has a complementary Goddess. And whilst all roles are vital to the bigger picture, no single one is considered more important than another.......For whilst men and women are each powerful in their own right, balanced cooperation will actually enhance and deepen those inherent forces which create, sustain and evolve life.........This is Natural Law and as an expression of such, Odinism- and hence the Odinic Rite- hold this balance of polarity (i.e. both men and women) as equally sacred sustainers of the whole.



http://www.odinic-rite.org/qa.htm#Answer9

RainInanna
November 20th, 2007, 10:00 AM
any modern reconstructionist's point of veiw will necessarily be biased by what she has read (the only source of information available) balanced against what she has experienced personally, and therefore not the same as an interveiw with someone from the time in question.

So then the general idea is when reconstructing gender inequality is one of those things that is discarded as not useful to present time?

The idea that goddesses are equal to gods even if women aren't equal to men is new to me. Definitely gives me pause for thought.

David19
November 20th, 2007, 09:38 PM
Feminism is a belief that all genders should be socially, economically, and politically equal. I believe that men and women are equal but unfortunately thats not always true within modern society (especially concerning women...hence the term "feminism"). So feminism is still about gaining equality for women around the world.



So do I.

I agree with you, I've always considered feminism a way of empowering and making sure men and women are equal, that women aren't treated as second class citizens, etc.

I'm also a very strong advocate for LGBT rights, and making sure we're treated equally ('cause, while people may not see it, we're not seen as equal and there is still discrimination).

Sorry if I got OT.

Seren_
November 21st, 2007, 12:11 PM
Exactly. I can't stress this enough, but it's important to remember that reconstructionism is a modern tradition. Things that are not well accepted in our society (for example, animal sacrifice and geneder inequality) are discarded.

I'm not so sure we can say that gender inequality is discarded completely. It's sometimes a knotty issue in the recon community, as far as I've seen.

I remember a while ago there was some controversy over some flamekeeping groups dedicated to Brigid. One group was 'strictly' reconstructionist and wouldn't allow men to tend the flame for Brigid, because they weren't allowed to, historically (though I believe men were allowed to join the group in a more general sense). Another group started up because they disagreed with this approach and argued that in modern society there was no need for such discrimination. (I think that was the general gist of it, anyway).

I think the first group based their practises on not wanting to offend Brigid (assuming that since men weren't allowed to do it historically, that that was Brigid's preference). Other people didn't agree, though, and saw it as plain and simple sexism. I'm sure there are other examples of such controversies, but generally it ends up with everyone agreeing to disagree.

Theres
November 21st, 2007, 03:44 PM
So then the general idea is when reconstructing gender inequality is one of those things that is discarded as not useful to present time?
well, one would hope so anyway. i don't think it is the wish of the gods to keep us unelightened.


The idea that goddesses are equal to gods even if women aren't equal to men is new to me. Definitely gives me pause for thought.
really? it seems so perfectly natural to me.

nothing will lower the gods down to our level (in our eyes anyway) quicker than trying to politicize them. they are not supposed to be merely foils for our mundane prejudices, but something far above that (imo).

Seren_
November 21st, 2007, 05:13 PM
I remember that, certainly one of the most heated debates I've seen in the CR community. You're right, though. What I was referring to was more civil and political, however.

I figured as much but some people don't see as much of a separation between that and the religious aspect...in some ways they're very intertwined. People draw the line between the two at different distances, so to speak.

Personally I think it's entirely appropriate for people to pursue something of a more gender specific approach to their spiritual practice if it fulfils a need. That said, I also think there's plenty of room for more modern attitudes (with regards to gender equality and sexuality etc) as well.

Athena-Nadine
November 21st, 2007, 05:23 PM
it would be interesting, but unless you found a 2500 year old Hellenic Pagan woman it is probably moot.
any modern reconstructionist's point of veiw will necessarily be biased by what she has read (the only source of information available) balanced against what she has experienced personally, and therefore not the same as an interveiw with someone from the time in question.

as far as "separating religion from socio-poltical", it may not be possible but i firmly believe that it is essential to try. without even an effort to do so one's religion (any religion) will never be in its purest form. the best one could hope for then would be some sort of spiritually flavored political belief.



(i hope this made some kind of sense)
:confused:

Exactly. I see this as no different than any modern Christian woman may. The majority of women in the US who are Christian feel they are equal to men today. This wasn't always so. But times change and perceptions change. My mother is very much a Christian. She is also a Deacon in her church and would laugh if anyone suggested that she is somehow inferior to men or must reconcile the fact that she would have been thought to be so even a hundred years ago.

It is HUMANS who decided that there was an inequality between the sexes, not the gods.

Twinkle
November 25th, 2007, 01:11 AM
For this reason I would be interested to see what Hellenic Pagan women could add here. Is it really that easy to separate religious from socio-political?
Yes it is that easy. Hellenismos has a balanced pantheon, and while priests normally tended the temples of Gods and priestesses tended the temples of Goddesses, it was not uncommon for the reverse to be the case. I do believe in gender roles to a certain extent, but not so extreme as to limit a woman's right to be the person she chooses to be. I believe in equal but different, and I think that is reflected in my religion as well. Reconstructionism attempts to reconstruct those aspects of a culture that were specifically religious and spiritual, not the whole society and social structure. The question of the original post implies both that modern worshipers of some how innately bigoted and that they hard stuck in the past... which I find very offensive.

Son of Goddess
November 25th, 2007, 08:12 PM
I cannot believe the relevance of this discussion to my situation several weeks ago...

I worship a deity known as the Magna Mater or Cybele. Historically speaking this deity has been served by women, eunuchs/castrati (modern practitioners under this grouping are transgenders), and men.

Quite recently I was banned, exccommunicated, you-name-it, from a yahoo group that particularly focused on the Reconstruction of this deity's worship. The reason for my banning was my application of correct and historically sound information proving that men can indeed be priests of this deity and disprove the autonomy of transgenders and women in this Goddess' cult, which in the eyes of the said group was a resounding cardinal sin. Men and women were the first to give priestly service to this deity thousands of years ago, eunuchs/castrati/modern transgenders show up extremely late in the worship of this Goddess (particularly in the 300's BCE).

The list owner, being a transgender, didn't like my use of historically accurate information and admitted to being a strong feminist and was very quick to hit me with every kind of demeaning thing she could say about men. She even stated she would do anything and everything she could to ensure no man ever participates in the worship of this deity.

In my experience, feminism in religion does nothing but damage the deity's worship and perception to the world. As does the reverse of course, I have never and never will advocate a men-only religion.

For me, if you have men and/or daddy issues go see a therapist, don't take it out on the Gods, for They call Their own and impiety is always punished.

RainInanna
November 26th, 2007, 12:51 PM
Some fascinating responses, so glad to get everyone's ideas.

I think part of the reason I was thinking the way I was is that I remember discussing Zeus cheating on Hera and someone saying that it was a reflection of the culture. Some Gods seem to get entrenched in some very human foibles like adultery, jealousy, etc. What do you do when the God you're called to worship did things you disagree with (aside from "nothing, he's a lot bigger then me and I don't want to get zapped" :lol: )

Son of Goddess
November 26th, 2007, 01:08 PM
Well it is important to know and understand that the Gods are not Their myths.

RainInanna
November 26th, 2007, 01:33 PM
Well it is important to know and understand that the Gods are not Their myths.

How so? How would you reconcile the myths with the individual?

(I apologize if it seems I'm being thick, I'm not a polytheist and I seriously would like to understand. I appreciate everyone's input.)

Son of Goddess
November 26th, 2007, 03:04 PM
Well firstly the myths are not history, they are not real accounts of things that have happened. In other words, they are not to be taken as Gospel, which leads us into what makes Paganism particularly unique. [When I use Paganism here I am referring to the ancient religions of Rome, Greece, etc... not modern day Paganism]

Religions that ascribe to written works as Gospel, meaning they are regarded as the only source of religious knowledge, are Orthodox which means that these religions require that the devotee believes A, B, and C in order to gain the graces of that religion's deity.

The religions of Paganism did not rely on such written works because they relied solely on practice, meaning they were Orthoprax; in order to obtain the graces of the Gods, one was responsible for the proper performance of the various rituals that celebrate those Gods and were required to perform those rituals in a particular way.

Rome was particularly strict with this, if any issue or mistake occurred during the ritual, it required the ritual to immediately be halted, an offering was made in expiation for the mistake and the ritual was then re-performed. This is also the reason why Rome was adamant against the early Christians who refused to perform the rites to the Gods, to do so was to show disrespect towards the Gods and thus lose the favor of the Gods, if Rome lost the favor of the Gods it would lose its standing as a powerful nation. Disrespecting the Gods would open Rome, or anyone for that matter, up to famine, illness, bad fortune, death, etc... Roman religion particularly strived to maintain the Pax Deorum, Peace of the Gods.

novimarra
November 30th, 2007, 01:49 PM
Lots of interesting points made here. I'm sorry to offend the person (or people) I have offended. I suppose I'm expected to assume that a god's myths have nothing to do with that god's personality. Or at least as far as His/Her view of women is concerned...?
In other words, I wonder if a practitioner really could say "I don't like the misogyny of this god," or "I wish this god were more accepting of other pantheons," etc. Where does one draw the line between hard-and-fast reconstruction and adaptation to modern sensibilities, at the expense (or gain) of a god's personality?

Son of Goddess
November 30th, 2007, 08:01 PM
I don't think anyone is offended.

Let me show you something. The following is a quote taken from Sallustius' "On the Gods and the Cosmos":

Of myths some are theological, some physical, some psychic, and again some material, and some mixed from these last two. The thological are those myths which use no bodily form but contemplate the very essence of the Gods: e.g., Cronus swallowing his children. Since God is intellectual, and all itnellect returns into itself, this myth expresses in allegory the essence of God.

Myths may be regarded physically when they express the activities of the Gods in the world: e.g., people before now have regarded Cronus as time, and calling the divisions of time his sons and say that the sons are swallowed by the father.

The psychic way is to regard the activities of the soul itself; the soul's acts of thought, though they pass on to other objects, nevertheless remain inside their begetters.

The material and last is that which the Egyptians have mostly used, owing to their ignorance, believing material objects actually to be Gods, and so calling them: e.g., they call the earth Isis, moisture Osiris, heat Typhon, or again, water Cronus, the fruits of the earth Adonis, and wine Dionysos.

To say that these objects are sacred to the Gods, like various herbs and stones and animals, is possible to sensible men, but to say that they are Gods is the notion of madmen - except, perhaps, in the sense in whcih both the orb of the sun and the ray which comes from the orb are colloquially called 'the sun;.

The mixed kind of myth may be seen in many instances: for example they say that in a banquet of the Gods Discord threw down a golden apple; the Goddesses contended for it, and were sent by Zeus to Paris to be judged. Paris saw Aphrodite to be beautiful and gave her the apple. here the banquet signifies the hypercosmic powers of the Gods; that is why they are all together. The golden apple is the world, which being formed out of opposites is naturally said to be 'thrown by DIscord'. The different Gods bestow different gifts upon the world, and are thus said to "contend for the apple'. And the soul which lives according to sense - for that is what Paris is - not seeing the other powers in the world but only beauty, declares that the apple belongs to Aphrodite.

Theological myths suit philosophers, physical and psychic suit poets, mixed suit religious initiations, since ever initiation aims at uniting us with the world and the Gods.

This quotation of Sallustius comes from Timothy Jay Alexander's book A Beginner's Guide to Hellenismos

gillian_greenleaf
November 30th, 2007, 09:41 PM
Some things were not always equal but equal enough I think.

So then, they weren't equal, right? I have to admit I don't like the thought of a system where things were just "equal enough."

Also [I'm editing this] has anyone read "The Chalice and the Blade" by Riane Eisler? It talks about a pre-agrarian period of human history that was matriarchal and goddess focused.

Theres
November 30th, 2007, 10:11 PM
So then, they weren't equal, right? I have to admit I don't like the thought of a system where things were just "equal enough."

Also [I'm editing this] has anyone read "The Chalice and the Blade" by Riane Eisler? It talks about a pre-agrarian period of human history that was matriarchal and goddess focused.
that should probably read alleged "pre-agrarian period of human history that was matriarchal and goddess focused."
do you have any scholarly citation for this OTHER than a work of fiction?

gillian_greenleaf
November 30th, 2007, 10:26 PM
that should probably read alleged "pre-agrarian period of human history that was matriarchal and goddess focused."
do you have any scholarly citation for this OTHER than a work of fiction?

A little testy today, are we? The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler is a work of non-fiction. She's an social scientist and social activist. There is a book by the same name that is a novel by Glenna McReynolds. Are you confusing the two?

YoungSoulRebel
December 1st, 2007, 01:49 AM
How do you reconcile a belief in equality of the sexes with these ancient paths (esp for recons) that only value the masculine? I would consider myself a feminist, in that men and women are of equal importance in the eyes of deity (and should be in those of "man"). But reading up on mythology of several older Pagan religions and belief systems, I doubt women and even goddesses were worth all that much.

Curious on different perspectives!

I identify my path as "Recon" and this can be taken a number of ways. This is how I take it:


First off, "Reconstructionism" is less a bible and more a methodology. To regard certain ancient texts as "bible-like", Reconstructionism is in danger of being seen as less a living religion and more like an RPG or SCA gathering. The ancints may have had some wisdom, but they didn't know everything and they were often just as likely to prove themselves as imperfect as modern people.

One thing that Recons generally get a lot of flack about is gender issues -- and it's not always about "male vs. female", either, actually. One may ask "how can you be both Recon and a feminist?" but one may also look at the writings of Gerald Gardner as ask "How can you be for GLBT rights and be Wiccan?" In other words, the answer is "because things change".

Reconstructionist Paganism is a method. It is a method that seeks to answer the question "what if there was an unbroken [and uncloseted] tradition that honoured X-Pantheon and if there was, how would it adapt to the changing social mores and still maintain the spirit of the ancient religion?"

Furthermore, "hard reconstruction" (i.e. "unless the ancients did it, it is WRONG!!!") has a major flaw. A "hard reconstructionist" may say "the ancients were given rules on how to worship from the Gods, and anything less is worthless UPG and therefore wrong! it's blasphemy to not do it just like the ancients did!" Well, that idea is all well and good, but WHICH ANCIENTS? Certain traditions of Sparta may have been seen as heresy in Athens, whose traditions were also distinct from those of Boeotia, whose traditions were still different from Macedonia, and so on and so forth. And that's only the Greeks! Celtic Recons just may have a bigger pain in the rear (you know, the whole not-having-a-written-language and the whole "no, 'Celtic' is not a different word for 'Irish'" things).

Furthermore, there is a difference between religious and secular traditions. While socities are often influenced by the majority religion, there are still secular traditions and there <i>were</i>, even among the ancients. I find it ridiculous that a society where cults of Artemis and Aphrodite were quite common felt that their religion somehow justified women being treated as second-class citizens (except for unusual cases, such as the Hetaera class of ancient Greece who, like the Japanese geisha class, weren't exactly "prostitutes" so much as high-class, high-paid companion women, trained in music and dance and conversation, with sex offered to favoured customers -- the Hetaera class were also regarded as "independent" women, full citizens, and were expected to pay taxes, and were often the only women in their polis with a high-ranking social class). Basically, there is very little among the surviving ancient texts that even sugests that, say, a low social status was religiously justified in ATHENS, a city whose patron Deity was a Goddess.

By the way, to the o/p: No offense, but your idea that "Goddesses weren't that important" seems rather unfounded, all things considered.

Consider Hestia or her Roman equivalent, Vesta, for starters. She was considered by the ancients to bring stability to the home, and in the case of Vesta, to the city as well. In Rome, an eternal flame to Vesta was maintained in the centre of the city with the belief that if it should go out, even for a second, then the city would be at risk. Ancient Greek or Roman weddings consisted of making offerings to Hera (or Juno) and Aphrodite (or Venus). Athene won patronage over the city that became known as Athens, beating out Poseidon -- in fact, that city she won still bares her name to this day! And this is only for starters! There is no reason to believe that Goddesses, to the ancients, were "second class divinity". And, in many ways, it is arguable that Goddesses and nymphs had a more-active role in Earthly matters -- the seasons, for examples, were brought by Goddesses. As were the hours of the day. Every freshwater spring was maintained by a demi-Goddess. The will of Demeter said whether or not one's crops, an important staple to an ancient diet, would flourish or fail.

Furthermore, while it is true that only a scant few women writers of antiquity existed, and fewer survived, and fewer sources give much details in the lives of women of classical antiquity, the information that *does* exist suggests that the ancients knew well enough that without the women staying at home while the men were at war, tending the home and hearth, and basically making the polis work, then their society would collapse. Furthermore, Spartan women were basically closer to "equals" to men than many modern women are today -- true, this came at the price of being expected to be well-versed in hand-to-hand combat (among other things) and held to an equally rigorous standard of physical perfection that men were (and this was judged at birth), it becomes obvious that the modern understanding of "gender freedom" and "gender equality" is quite different from those of ancient times. How many women here are actually disappointed that signing up for the draft is not the requirement for women that it is for men? Now how many of you feel you could survive the rigorous Spartan combat training?

Basically, there is no reason that "feminism" and reconstructionist paganism have to be mutually exclusive. None at all. The varying roles of the genders among the ancients is evidence of this.

Son of Goddess
December 1st, 2007, 02:01 AM
To risk sounding "patriarchal", it is a well known fact that the "matriarchal peaceful Goddess-monotheistic societies of pre-history" are as non-existant as it gets.

Many people will cite Catal Hoyuk for this theory, but all of it is mere speculation and its all based on paintings. 10,000 years from now people looking at our current art are going to think we were all whacked out and high the entire time and that the world's population resembled those of Asian descent. :smileroll:

We can thank our friends Margaret Murrary, Marija Gimbutas and Robert Graves for all this non-sense. I'm all for women's spirituality and women's equality, but to revise history is just plain dispicable.

gillian_greenleaf
December 1st, 2007, 12:01 PM
To risk sounding "patriarchal", it is a well known fact that the "matriarchal peaceful Goddess-monotheistic societies of pre-history" are as non-existant as it gets.

Many people will cite Catal Hoyuk for this theory, but all of it is mere speculation and its all based on paintings. ... We can thank our friends Margaret Murrary, Marija Gimbutas and Robert Graves for all this non-sense. I'm all for women's spirituality and women's equality, but to revise history is just plain dispicable.

Interesting how people sometimes choose to accept archaeological evidence (you know, the pot shards, paintings, myths) that help advance their own POV, but if for some reason they don't like the evidence or don't see that it fits within the boundaries of their spiritual or historical understanding, THOSE pieces of evidence get identified as "nonsense" and thrown out. All history is interpretation; all is revision; all is written from the POV of the winner.

There is actually extensive archaeological and anthropological research theorizing prehistorical goddess worship. Utopian matriarchies are not necessarily part of that perspective. To throw out this whole body of research is perhaps unwise.

Non -- Sense, an interesting word, don't you think? Things are nonsense if they don't make sense to a person. A bit of a segue here, but I've been following the legal case that was made for Intelligent Design recently. The arguments seem to have much in common with the one here-- an attempt to disregard paleontological evidence as clearly "nonsense." I guess sometimes one person's nonsense is another's faith.

This all being said, I am always so surprised when what begins as a very interesting discussion here on MW become forums where people in essence tell others that they're just plain stupid. That's sad. I enjoy engaging in active and respectful disagreements with people. It's fun, and I learn an awful lot, but I really don't see a need to insult the ideas of others.

odubhain
December 1st, 2007, 02:43 PM
Interesting how people sometimes choose to accept archaeological evidence (you know, the pot shards, paintings, myths) that help advance their own POV, but if for some reason they don't like the evidence or don't see that it fits within the boundaries of their spiritual or historical understanding, THOSE pieces of evidence get identified as "nonsense" and thrown out. All history is interpretation; all is revision; all is written from the POV of the winner.
I'd be interested in knowing what you think the major factors are for matriarchical religion not prospering in the world today and why you think that it would have been more successful in the past?

How would you characterize the qualities associated with each gender?

Is there an advantage to humanity of either gender dominating the other?

Let's make some interpretations of history that are not based on the POV of the winners but on our own POV's.

Searles O'Dubhain

gillian_greenleaf
December 1st, 2007, 05:16 PM
Odubhain, your questions are very interesting. I think your last point ... "Let's make some interpretations of history that are not based on the POV of the winners but on our own POV's" is an excellent one. I'm not meaning to say that it's right, it's often just what is. Those groups not in power tend to be overwhelmed by those who are the "winners." I don't necessarily mean that in a positive sense. For example, and this doesn't have to do with gender, archaeologists and historians are trying to piece together the culture of the Mayans. The Spanish conquistadors destroyed most of the Mayan codex's and enslaved the people. Are there still individuals who are of Mayan ancestry today? Of course, but much of their culture and history was trampled on and what remains today is not the same as the culture in its heyday.

Let me think about questions 1, ok? That's a huge topic. Gender inequality and oppression is long-standing and both individual and structural in its applications.

How would I characterize the qualities associated with each gender? Do you mean personality characteristics? If you do, I don't believe there are any that are genetic. I'm a sociologist by profession, and I'm firmly on the side of nurture! If you mean the gender role scripts, how sex is played out in its male and female forms, then that varies by culture, by time period, by many things.

Is there an advantage to humanity of either gender dominating the other? Not to humanity as a whole, but perhaps to the particular group that is doing the dominating.

My answers here have been fairly quickly formed. I'd like to think about your questions more deeply. They are good one, and ones that need to be asked. Thank you for taking seriously my comment about being interested in carrying on a dialogue. I appreciate it!

odubhain
December 1st, 2007, 06:53 PM
Thanks gillian,

Too often I see people battling for their right to express and be themselves in social structures that oppose that individuality and also that tends to suppress one group or another. Often what happens is those who are mostattentive to the details of power usage and influence come out on top with the danger of either becoming like the source of the problem or becoming even more polarized as the source of the repression. I'd like to hopefully discover some forms of dialog and discussion that allows everyone to realize a society that encourages the many gifts with which each of us are born (at least in potential).

I'm also interested in discussing the ways that the female and male mind differ (if they actually do and science seems to indicate this). In my own short life, I've seen where a person's strengths and weaknesses tend to change who a person originally was. By this I mean that those who are incredibly smart sometimes avoid emotional growth by using the intellect. Those who are physically gifted don't always improve their intellectual and nurturing sides because everything comes to them with ease and without having to think. Those who enjoy or who are emotionally talented modify the world around them with their own unique gifts.

The mix of genders, skills, gifts, orientation and focus of attention makes the world a very dynamic and sometimes explosive place. Communication across all barriers and along all the gift ways and waves seems to be called for but represents a risk to the ego in most people (me included). I sometimes think that there should be emotional and personal perspective training given publically along with arts, science, crafts and technology training as we develop. Parents traditionally have done this but since the Industrial Revolution, it seems that the State is preempting this role in the family.

I'm concerned about the ways that the pendullum swings as society and people make adjustments for the lack in the ways that current social systems allow a person to be a person. It can easily get completely outside the boundaries of moderation and nurturing no matter who thinks they have the reins of life in their hands.

There are worlds full of individuals who have no been allowed to contribute their talents to the world because of the way our civilizations and cultures have evolved. I hope the corrections are more emotionally, mentally and spiritually aware rather than the same-old-same-old with a different set of clothing.

I looke forward to the benefit of your deeper consideration and contemplation of thiese questions and points.

Searles O'Dubhain

Son of Goddess
December 1st, 2007, 09:24 PM
Gillian,

Yes there was a possible pre-historic worship of goddesses, and I didn't say to throw out any pre-historical research at all.

What I was saying is that:
1) A global Goddess monotheism did not historically exist, and this is exactly what most people who are into the whole "matriarchy" thing say existed. And the mere idea of a global anything in those times is jumping the gun.

2) Utopian matriarchies didn't exist, as you have admitted.

And lastly, I didn't call anyone stupid whatsoever, so how dare you imply such a thing.

I am deeply dedicated to historical accuracy, so when people go around spewing their mouths about their pre-historic gobal monotheist goddess religion where women reign over peaceful nations et al, I am quite compelled to call their bluff.

Sethserpenthus
December 1st, 2007, 10:04 PM
I see no need to hold the same politics as the ancient Egyptians. In fact, my political and social beliefs for the most part are anything but.

novimarra
December 2nd, 2007, 12:06 AM
I'll just say, with no attempt at being scholarly, that I think more often of Christianity and its relation to gender roles in society. Growing up Christian and attending church services recently, I've noticed a connection between *what the bible says* and what people are expected to do/think.

At a Protestant service, the pastor related the women attending church to Bathsheba, who seduced an otherwise decent man. We were told to "dress more conservatively," for future reference. This suggests direct influence, even though I'm only giving a specific example.

Since we look to the gods for spiritual guidance, why wouldn't this spirituality reflect on our daily lives? Why wouldn't this have mattered to the ancient Greeks, etc.? I'm asking in response to the suggestion that divides religion and society into two completely separate entities.

_Banbha_
December 2nd, 2007, 11:13 PM
I identify my path as "Recon" and this can be taken a number of ways. This is how I take it:


First off, "Reconstructionism" is less a bible and more a methodology. To regard certain ancient texts as "bible-like", Reconstructionism is in danger of being seen as less a living religion and more like an RPG or SCA gathering. The ancints may have had some wisdom, but they didn't know everything and they were often just as likely to prove themselves as imperfect as modern people.

One thing that Recons generally get a lot of flack about is gender issues -- and it's not always about "male vs. female", either, actually. One may ask "how can you be both Recon and a feminist?" but one may also look at the writings of Gerald Gardner as ask "How can you be for GLBT rights and be Wiccan?" In other words, the answer is "because things change".

I thought your post was interesting but I want to comment on the points where I reflect some differences.

I don't really agree that Recon's generally get a lot of flack on gender issues; or perhaps other traditions within Reconstruction hear it more than CR's do. I think other replies reflect this.

Your analogy comparing Recon/feminist and Gardner/LGBT being acceptable because things change doesn't work for me. I'm pretty uncompromising when it comes to my humanity; which to many would read that I hold some radical feminist beliefs. I don't have to change things on this level or ask myself such questions and make compromises as an Irish Reconstructionist.

CR is not a world view that encompasses polarizing dualities. Embracing the older perspective/cosmology in itself is more liberating than the the later Christian and post-Christian world views. In itself, it's not something that has to change. Maybe this accounts for the different perspective coming from CR's in some part.


Reconstructionist Paganism is a method. It is a method that seeks to answer the question "what if there was an unbroken [and uncloseted] tradition that honoured X-Pantheon and if there was, how would it adapt to the changing social mores and still maintain the spirit of the ancient religion?"

Furthermore, "hard reconstruction" (i.e. "unless the ancients did it, it is WRONG!!!") has a major flaw. A "hard reconstructionist" may say "the ancients were given rules on how to worship from the Gods, and anything less is worthless UPG and therefore wrong! it's blasphemy to not do it just like the ancients did!" Well, that idea is all well and good, but WHICH ANCIENTS? Certain traditions of Sparta may have been seen as heresy in Athens, whose traditions were also distinct from those of Boeotia, whose traditions were still different from Macedonia, and so on and so forth. And that's only the Greeks! Celtic Recons just may have a bigger pain in the rear (you know, the whole not-having-a-written-language and the whole "no, 'Celtic' is not a different word for 'Irish'" things).

I think "Hard Reconstruction" is an anomaly or an ignorant stereo-type. A Reconstructionist who does not recognize or understand the complexities of the different cultures and subcultures in actual historical context is doing it wrong.

There is no issue with ''Celtic' not being a different word for Irish' because that's pretty basic information for most in CR. The whole not having a written language, they were oral cultures until the dawn of Christianity in the various countries. The fact "Celtic" lands were comprised of oral cultures is a huge part of their identity. And yeah, it's frustrating at times but it comes with the territory. :vanish:

<snip>


Furthermore, Spartan women were basically closer to "equals" to men than many modern women are today -- true, this came at the price of being expected to be well-versed in hand-to-hand combat (among other things) and held to an equally rigorous standard of physical perfection that men were (and this was judged at birth), it becomes obvious that the modern understanding of "gender freedom" and "gender equality" is quite different from those of ancient times. How many women here are actually disappointed that signing up for the draft is not the requirement for women that it is for men? Now how many of you feel you could survive the rigorous Spartan combat training?

Basically, there is no reason that "feminism" and reconstructionist paganism have to be mutually exclusive. None at all. The varying roles of the genders among the ancients is evidence of this.

I think the draft is inherently unfair as it stands and it needs to be changed; even while I would oppose it being utilized for ALL in most situations. Women are already in the field and in active combat situations in Iraq with all the risk and sacrifice. I also think women should be allowed in the infantry if they can pass the basic requirements just like the men have too. :)

YoungSoulRebel
December 3rd, 2007, 02:53 AM
Your analogy comparing Recon/feminist and Gardner/LGBT being acceptable because things change doesn't work for me. I'm pretty uncompromising when it comes to my humanity; which to many would read that I hold some radical feminist beliefs. I don't have to change things on this level or ask myself such questions and make compromises as an Irish Reconstructionist.

I find this hilarious coming from somebody who takes the name of a class of a sacred Hellenic spirit in their handle.

Furthermore, you seem harshly mistaken in your presumed assumption that Hellenic Reconstruction involves "making compromises". That's like saying that Bears (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_community) have to "make compromises" to resolve their gay identity in a world of effete stereotypes. Cultures grow and change. Not even Irish culture is the same thing today that it was a thousand years ago -- or even forty years ago. Does that mean one must "make compromises" to resolve an Irish identity just because their neighbours are anachronistically clingling to the social mores of the past that have nothing to do with the culture or even piety?

I wouldn't call your beliefs outlined here "radical feminist" -- I'd call them unfounded.

_Banbha_
December 3rd, 2007, 09:44 PM
I find this hilarious coming from somebody who takes the name of a class of a sacred Hellenic spirit in their handle.

O dear, the 'Ye Olde English' spelling of 'Wylde' should clue you in, and if you know anything about the history of Irish scholarship, even more so.
Screen names on a message board like this are srs buziness, YoungSoulRebel?


Furthermore, you seem harshly mistaken in your presumed assumption that Hellenic Reconstruction involves "making compromises". That's like saying that Bears have to "make compromises" to resolve their gay identity in a world of effete stereotypes. Cultures grow and change. Not even Irish culture is the same thing today that it was a thousand years ago -- or even forty years ago. Does that mean one must "make compromises" to resolve an Irish identity just because their neighbours are anachronistically clingling to the social mores of the past that have nothing to do with the culture or even piety?

That's cute, considering I was commenting on a *generalization* you made about *Reconstructionists* there. The "presumed assumptions" here I think are yours. I edited the personal HR comments you made later in that post with a <notation> in my reply. I discussed the idea personal compromise; not that of entire traditions of other Reconstructionists.

I've never had to ask myself this question and I don't think it compares to the more potent issue of Gardner and LGBT given the polarization at the core of that belief system:


"how can you be both Recon and a feminist?" but one may also look at the writings of Gerald Gardner as ask "How can you be for GLBT rights and be Wiccan?" In other words, the answer is "because things change".

It doesn't make it *wrong* for someone else to need to ask that question. It's an opinion coming from a particular perspective.

The fact that culture changes and grows is not relevant to my specific point here. I'm not denying change itself by stating this, if you're misunderstanding that as well. I'm just coming at this from another level. You didn't quote my next sentence in your reply and it was the main point. The view of "Celtic" consciousness and cosmos is infused in the literature, myth, poetry for every contemporary Irish person: devout Catholic or Protestant, Agnostic, Atheist, Pagan or anything else. It is not a foreign cultural concept (past or present) whether it is personally embraced or not.


I wouldn't call your beliefs outlined here "radical feminist" -- I'd call them unfounded.

If you're so disinclined; but it was only briefly mentioned and never outlined in the first place. ;)

YoungSoulRebel
December 4th, 2007, 02:22 AM
O dear, the 'Ye Olde English' spelling of 'Wylde' should clue you in, and if you know anything about the history of Irish scholarship, even more so.
Screen names on a message board like this are srs buziness, YoungSoulRebel?

Yeah, I'm also aware of a lot of crackpot theories that have been proved either unfounded or based on a complete misunderstanding of known evidence.

And hey, it's not my fault you've yet to welcome the New Soul Vision.

YoungSoulRebel
December 4th, 2007, 03:14 AM
Most ancient European cultures were mainly patriarchial and women had little rights. Many cultures did not allow women to own property, divorce, hold public office, inherit money or property, etc.

That's very much over-simplifying things and, with a cursory amount of research, is easily proved "not really...."

One can look at the ancient Greeks, I mean *really* look at them and see that the "rights" of women varied quite wildly, even in Athens. In Sparta, women were considered more "equal" in the sense that we think of now, and Spartan culture was very obviously equally hard (or debatably far harder) on men to conform to their standards of "perfection".

And elsewhere, specifically among the hetairai class of women, they were very much regarded as "equals" and in Athens were likely the only women who consistently held a high social status. Many modern "feminists" brush off the Hetaira class as "prostitutes" the same way many will brush off the Japanese geisha class as such -- no, they were highly cultures, rigorously trained in music, dance, the arts, and conversation, and unlike a common prostitute of the day (who was typically indiscriminate in partners for survival), the Hetairai class were extremely discriminate, but were so entertaining that a man with high social class typically didn't care if she did not offer him sex (something else that distinguished a Hetaira from other women of ancient Greece -- average women were often just "taken" in sex [though there is plenty of evidence citing reason to believe this is less "rape" in the modern sense, and more a D/s power-play, at least among married women], and common prostitutes were "taken" in exchange for a few coins -- a Hetaira chose her partner/s). And, like men, the Hetaira were allowed to own property, considered "independant women" (and in some city-states, they were the only independant women), and like men, they were considered "real citizens" and thus had to pay taxes.

While most women weren't Hetairai, to ignore their role in ancient Greek society is to ignore the fact that being an "independant woman" was an option to ancient Greek women -- though an option that most either didn't take, if only because marriage offered a guarantee (well, mostly -- divorce did happen) as well as the "luxury" of never having to pay taxes (while being largely in control of the household money -- after all, somebody had to pay for wools or cloths, foods, pottery, and so forth, and the wife knew what was needed far better than her husband did), or because they just couldn't pass or otherwise deal with the training that a potential Hetaira went through.

The role of ancient Greek women is very comparable to "traditional" Japanese culture, in a sense -- in marriage, there was this constant "power play", and while it superficially seemed that the husband was "in control", he also very much needed his wife to run his household for him, simply because boys just weren't taught anything more about money than "more of it = more wealth = more power", girls, on the other hand, were taught the value of money and the goods that were to be purchased with it. There was obviously a class of independent women who didn't even need a man to earn her money for her, but there were quite a few reasons that most women simply didn't choose to try and join that class (and the fact that quite a few Hetairai on record were former slaves at the time of their training says that a Hetaira was a woman who decided to break the class structure -- after all, a good handful started out not even on the bottom rung, but on the ground beneath the ladder and then spent quite a lot of time on some of the highest steps).

And considering the "women's mysteries" of the ancient Greeks, from the rites of Artemis for young girls to giving birth, it seems more obvious that the role of women in that place at that time was, well, complicated. We're only looking at it from fragments, and I'm sure that there's quite a bit that we're missing. We're only seeing a certain superficiality and hardly the whole picture.

YoungSoulRebel
December 4th, 2007, 08:02 AM
A feminist is not someone who thinks men and women are not equal, but someone who knows they aren't always treated as such.

That makes Fred Phelps a feminist.

_Banbha_
December 4th, 2007, 08:07 AM
Yeah, I'm also aware of a lot of crackpot theories that have been proved either unfounded or based on a complete misunderstanding of known evidence.

I dunno about 'crackpot,' that's more Graves and I've never considered him a scholar, I never fell into the whole Wiccan-Pagan thing. I think based on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the evidence suits better.

Add a clue from a previous post and you might be close to getting it...or not.

YoungSoulRebel
December 4th, 2007, 08:12 AM
you're speaking of the cultural/political system of Athens, and it's hard to argue that women were treated equally or even fairly in their society as a whole. however this was not necessarily true of the religion.

Goddesses were equal to the gods in all ways (except perhaps for Zeus), and mortal women were allowed all the same religious participation as men. they often served as priestesses, as was seen in the Temple of Artemis (just for one), the Mysteries at Eleusis, and the Oracle at Delphi.
even young girls had their parts to play during the large festivals, such as the 'playing the bear' ritual in Athens.

so comparing the socio-political atmoshere of Athens with the religious atmoshere is comparing apples to oranges, and i'm not sure if it was all that different in other cultures.


THANK YOU.

YoungSoulRebel
December 4th, 2007, 08:18 AM
For this reason I would be interested to see what Hellenic Pagan women could add here. Is it really that easy to separate religious from socio-political?

Yes, actually.

David19
December 4th, 2007, 09:35 PM
I dunno about 'crackpot,' that's more Graves and I've never considered him a scholar.

I know this is probably OT, but I don't think even Graves himself considered himself an "historical scholar", he was a Poet, I think it's only modern people, especially Pagans who've used his works as "history", they seem to miss the point of his works - poetry, not history (and yet many authors will use him as a source for history).

odubhain
December 4th, 2007, 10:24 PM
I know this is probably OT, but I don't think even Graves himself considered himself an "historical scholar", he was a Poet, I think it's only modern people, especially Pagans who've used his works as "history", they seem to miss the point of his works - poetry, not history (and yet many authors will use him as a source for history).

Graves had an imbas experience but because he rebelled against his grandfather's rigid mindset about Ogham he did not possess the necessary scholarship to make his inspiration connect historically with the traditions. If he'd trained as a Draoi or a Fili, then he would have added tremendously to our knowledge of Ogham and imbas.

Unfortunately he did not so we are left with some good "poetic truth" and some lousy history.

Searles

_Banbha_
December 4th, 2007, 11:09 PM
I know this is probably OT, but I don't think even Graves himself considered himself an "historical scholar", he was a Poet, I think it's only modern people, especially Pagans who've used his works as "history", they seem to miss the point of his works - poetry, not history (and yet many authors will use him as a source for history).

Exactly. I was thinking of the numerous Neo-Pagan people/traditions who utilize the Celtic Tree Calender (for example) and claiming or assuming it's historically authentic. But...

"The White Goddess" is "A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth" according to the subtitle. Graves did indeed very much believe what he was writing by my read of it; but never claimed TWG had any 'rigid scientific method.' Hence the crackpot; but I do understand your distinction as well. :)

I wish he had left the word 'Celtic' out of it. /too late/

Theres
December 11th, 2007, 03:48 PM
this looks like an interesting book...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807067938/qid=1090467163/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/002-0140709-5694432?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

odubhain
December 12th, 2007, 08:17 PM
this looks like an interesting book...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807067938/qid=1090467163/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/002-0140709-5694432?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

I read the reviews and agree with the points being made that there was no golden age of feminism and that to believe so undermines women's efforts to be treated as equals today.

Besides that attitude and belief, what else do you think prevents women from asserting themselves more in today's world? Is it the status quo or is there more to it than mere inertia? Is it self-image? I know that in some places, it's physical force and law but that's not the case in many countries.

I've known women in my life that sought to excel (and did) in every activity they chose as a vocation. Why don't more do this? Why don't more men do this as well?

Searles ODubhain

novimarra
December 14th, 2007, 11:19 AM
I read the reviews and agree with the points being made that there was no golden age of feminism and that to believe so undermines women's efforts to be treated as equals today.

Besides that attitude and belief, what else do you think prevents women from asserting themselves more in today's world? Is it the status quo or is there more to it than mere inertia? Is it self-image? I know that in some places, it's physical force and law but that's not the case in many countries.

I've known women in my life that sought to excel (and did) in every activity they chose as a vocation. Why don't more do this? Why don't more men do this as well?

Searles ODubhain

That sounds pretty exhausting. And some people just aren't to-the-death competitive in every aspect of their lives. But that hasn't much to do with any difference between men and women as far as I can see. Just my 2 cents.