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Archetypal, Mythic Strong Women and Patriarchy -- A Conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD-- Transcript

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Rob: So I'm interested in this time that you described, 5,000 to 25,000 years ago when there was...what did you call it, a mother culture?

JSB: It was...

Rob: Mother culture.

JSB: It was a mother divinity so there would be the great goddess, the...and interestingly wherever she was, she wasn't like this one supermom -- every place had their own kind of name for her -- the mother goddess that was worshipped locally. And she was seen as a triple goddess -- as mother, maiden...as maiden, mother, crone -- like the moon cycles -- the waxing moon, the full moon, the waning moon, and then, you know, the mysterious dark of the moon. The feminine was seen in nature and the worship of her was because she was all around in nature.

And one of the really interesting things that raised as a Protestant Christian was realizing...and then getting into the archetypes, and knowing an archetype is a kind of an inherent pattern that then helps us to recognize similarities and things that the Greeks -- back to the Greeks again -- but the Eleusinian mysteries...and the word mystery, initially, well it applies to crime stories now, although it's about life and death really. So there's something about the word mysteries that goes back to the Eleusinian mysteries where mystais was the name of the initiate and it you were initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries, for 2,500 years prior to Christianity, you entered some kind of altered state after, through a ritual, you came out and you no longer feared death. And the idea was that you identified in some way with the sacred daughter, Persephone, who was abducted into the underworld and came back.

And then for the next 2500 years, we have Jesus, the Divine Son, who gets crucified and goes into the tomb, or womb. So the ancient goddess idea of the great mother was she was...everything was birthed out of the earth and went back to the earth. So the great mother as Mother Earth was the womb of all things and also was the tomb. So there was a cycle of life.

And so there were religions that honored the feminine, and the mystery of life and death and creation was seen as part of her. And the archaeology of things, and Riane Eisler's book, The Chalice and the Blade, talks about a time when there was in what we refer to as matriarchy, there seemed to be a more egalitarian element. And...where the issue is masculine...well, and that's actually where we are moving towards. I actually am not sure about the egalitarian side so much as I'm really forward-looking to the potential of, you know, here we are at a time when most people get a sense that it's a tilt time, as I call it...

Rob: Tilt?

JSB: It's like a teeter-totter. When you're standing in the middle of the teeter- totter, you can put your weight on one side or the other, and depending on what side you put your weight on, it will tilt down in that direction. And we are right at the center of the teeter-totter for humanity. And one side is destruction -- it's our end as we know it, it's ruining the planet... And the other is evolving in some way through the bringing together of masculine and feminine in individuals, but also empowering women who look after the young and who if we had...if women, if girls were treated as equals and if women were empowered in the big decisions...when life changes for families when mother and father are equal, and such things as 'What do we spend our budget on?' is decided by both -- it's just...it's different when that happens versus one person, the wife, is subordinate to the husband, who has power over everything. And this is the way we are governing the earth and its resources. Patriarchy HAS the decision making power and the big weapons, and women ARE subordinate. And research is beginning to really reveal that women react to stress differently than men and we're more likely to care about infrastructure that has to do with...with the well-being of our children and health and things like that, rather than weapons. I could go into a riff about that obviously so I think I'll stop.

Rob: I'm really interested though in the whole idea of patriarchy, and in a couple weeks I'm going to have on somebody who was raised in the Quiver movement...have you heard of that?

JSB: No I haven't. What is it?

Rob: It's a an approach to raising children where they basically do homeschooling, and they try to have as many children as they can, and it's totally patriarchal. The father is the ruler, the mother is the child-bearer and the cook...and they keep them out of public schools to protect them from the evils of what they'd learn there. This is...it's really such an extreme opposite...a total opposite of feminism it's the extreme of patriarchy, but it's real and it's happening now in America.

JSB: Oh, it is. And there are lots of...the Hasidic movement in New York City is rather like that, isn't it?

Rob: You tell me.

JSB: (Laughs) I just got the impression that within the really orthodoxy...was reading an article about has the...is the liberal progressive Jewish vote a thing of the past. As the rise of orthodoxy with Hasidic jury of New York being the example of a time...of going back to the patriarchal traditional values where, for one thing, having 8 children is...fits very well in that, and the schooling is done entirely within the...an education religious setting, where they don't teach the boys science, they teach them the Talmud. And they don't educate the girls beyond a certain point. And there are all the traditional kinds of roles that women have which are as...basically they serve the men. And...

Rob: They even have to wear head coverings, kind of like hijabs.

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