Current Update as of December 05, 2004
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
Book Summary by Susie Pedigo
Prehistoric societies worshipped goddesses, and women were often in positions of power . Property was passed from mother to daughter. What caused the disappearance in Western civilization of the feminine in religion? Why were women excluded from religious hierarchies for so long?
the shift occurred at the point that people were learning to read and
write, and alphabetic writing promotes left-brained, linear, logical thinking,
societies where the majority were literate developed a left-brained way
of looking at the world at the expense of the right-brained way of pattern
Yes, while these methods of viewing the world are opposed, every individual has all the features of both sides of the brain. In the 1960’ Marshall McLuhan stated that the" medium is the message." The technology of communication becomes part of the society’s mind and exerts an unconscious, powerful influence on the beliefs and perceptions of the members of that society.
Even though each individual has a unique set of genetic instructions,
the culture he is born into does the final shaping. As a part of the evolutionary
process, primates leaving the trees needed to develop big brains; but
the size of the brain was limited by the size of the birth canal. The
evolutionary solution to this problem was to leave the brain incomplete
upon birth. Major neurons were left to be developed by education after
A second evolutionary solution to the need for brain power divided the brain into two parts to allow development of speech. While all vertebrate brains have two lobes, only human brains have two lobes that function differently:
right side of the brain, which develops first in the fetus, is nonverbal,
nonlogical and meshes the emotions that equal the state of existence.
It enables the individual to know something authentically. It is the internal
voice that verifies the knowledge as being beyond debate. Having faith
in divinity, understanding jokes, and feeling attracted to or repulsed
by something are right brain activities.
The left-brain is busy with doing, willing and speech. It abstracts, discriminates, analyzes and dissects. It leaps from particular to general, from concrete to abstract. It creates art, logic, science and philosophy. It removes men from nature and creates the separate ego. The left lobe is a new sense organ to perceive time.
The corpus callosum is neural fiber connecting the two sides. Women have between 10% and 33 % more neural fibers in this area and therefore multitask more effectively than men. The male is more left-brained because hunting encourages the ability to shut out feelings and be objective. The woman’s brain is more right dominant because of the need for emotional commitment in the raising of a child. Male brains are time conscious; Female brains are space conscious.
Once mankind left the hunting/gathering stage and began to farm, the
feminine right-brained attributes were encouraged in both mean and women.
Seed planting and the wait for the harvest became to connected to impregnation
and gestation. The breeding of animals re-enforced the female as life
giver. Thus the earth goddesses were born. Anthropological studies of
nonliterate, agricultural societies indicate that they had more male and
female equality than industrialized, literate societies.
So what happened to change these societies and destroy goddess worship?
theories exist. Marija Gimbute thought the domestication of the horse
and the creation of the cavalry caused northern tribes to attack the agricultural
communities and to impose the sky god on them. Claude Levi-Strauss suggested
that the bride barter eroded women’s value. Sherry Ortner suggests that
gender roles diverged because men were associated with culture and women
with nature. Every society attempts to rise over nature by means of culture.
Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss concluded that the one thing linked to the development of hierarchical societies, slavery and oppression is the development of literacy.
According to Jungian theory everything has a shadow side. Literacy is often praised, but it too has a shadow side. It has encouraged the domination of women by men through out most of history. The idea that the alphabet disempowered women may seem opposed to historical fact. After all, literate societies in the west value the rule of law and constitutional government. They have increasingly affirmed the value of individuals of all races sexes and creeds. This affirmation is a late development.
Reading and writing are linear. Meaning is determined bit by bit with meaning determined by word choice, syntactic order and combinations of letters. Understanding often requires analysis. It is sets of symbols that represent rather recreate the world. Reading and writing are abstract rather than concrete. Images are mental duplications of the world the brains senses through vision. Images are concrete, holistic, and work with synthesis in a field or gestalt. They are perceived all at once.
Custom and language associate holistic, concrete reasoning and synthesis with the feminine. Abstraction, analysis and linear sequencing are associated with the masculine. Goddess worship, feminine values and women’s power depend on a culture where imagery dominates. God worship, masculine values and men’s domination of society are primarily found in cultures where the written word dominates. Word and image, male and female are complementary and ideally are balanced as in the YinYang symbol.
is literacy itself, which caused the disappearance of the Goddess. Speakers
and listeners us both rods and cones, gesture with both hands and are
more simultaneous and spontaneous. Both sides of the brain create and
interpret speech. Writers and readers use the left hemisphere that also
involves the hunting cones and the killing hand.
rules of grammar develop with writing and reading. Grammar and laws are
left brain, and abstract. They inhibit spontaneity and intuition. They
reinforce masculine principles. The earliest Mesopotamian law code attributed
to Urokagina of Lagash starts with a proscription against one woman having
several husbands. The rule of the male is a dominant theme of Hammurabi’s
code, which evolved at the high point of literacy in Mesopotamia.
alphabet developed in the Middle East. It allowed people to organize knowledge.
It makes storage and retrieval of data possible. It created the possibility
of theoretical science. An abstract alphabet encourages abstract thought.
It reinforces only the male part of the dual methods of survival. The
myths of the people who use it illustrate its masculine left-brained bias.
When any individual, male or female learn the alphabet, he or she turns
away from idols, and animal that represent nature and start to worship
an abstract god who lacks a face, or image.
the covenant with Abraham Yahweh’s requirement for male circumcision automatically
made women unable to be a part of the covenant. Sarah is powerless to
prevent the sacrifice of Isaac to Yaweh. The story of Moses returning
form receiving the Ten Commandments only to find the people worshiping
an image of a cow represents the conflict between image and written word.
On his second trip to the mountain, God dictates and Moses writes the
commandments in stone.
evidence of the Jewish glorification of males at the expense of females
includes the matter of hair. Hair length is connected with sexuality and
girls with long hair advertise her fertility to possible mates. Ancient
Israelite codes demanded that a bride shave her head immediately upon
become a wife. Of course the same rule did not apply to males. Then she
must wear wigs or scarves for her entire married life. On the other hand
women in the Old Testament are usually well-developed many sided personalities.
and Greece were the first civilizations to fully accept the alphabet;
that they are the foundation of Western civilization is significant. Homer’s
Iliad, which was the first written Greek literature, exalts masculine
values of heroism, deceit, trickery and war. If men die in battle or on
adventure they are ensured immortality in the poems that will long recite
their deeds. The epic begins with a father sacrificing a daughter so the
ships can sail.
Greek mythology Cadmus who had brought the alphabet from Phoenicia to
Greece, married Harmony, who was the daughter of Ares, God of War, and
had four daughters. He killed a serpent a symbol of feminine power and
gave the Greeks the alphabet which led to Greek law. All four daughters
seemed bound to Dionysus in a tragic way. Dionysus was the god of pleasure,
beauty, ecstasy, and creativity, as well as pain, cruelty, terror and
madness.. In the containing of opposing forces he is similar to the Yin-Yang
The Greeks also introduced coinage. Dealing with money is linear, abstract, and numerical--- all left brain functions. The hunter instincts in the male transferred to money. Hunt money rather than boars. Women reflecting their evolution as gatherers are more concrete than men and like to keep their money in jewelry or real estate rather than speculating in investment schemes. So the split-brain model explains why couples fight over money.
There are two dominant cultures on Earth: the occidental and the oriental. The western or occidental culture is extroverted and dualistic. It sees history as a sequence of event and medicine as mechanical. The West personifies the left-brain. The orient or east is introverted and holistic,. It sees history as patterns that recur and perceives medicine holistically. It is characterized by the right brain.
India developed the practice of burning a live widow on her dead husband’s funeral pyre. Bride burning which allows an Indian husband to set his wife afire to express his dislike of her is still practiced. The murder of female infants has been a common practice through out the history of India, and the practice of segregating women from men called Purdah is a common Hindu practice. What has caused the development of so anti female a culture?
of the Dravidians of the Indus valley that date between 2500 B.C. and
1500 B.C. reveal artifacts that indicate serpent worship. Inherited property
passed through the female line,. There seems to have been a reverence
for vegetation. The largest structure was a brick public bath. Graves
for men and women tend to be equal. Lingam and Yoni have been unearthed
from these sights. Lingam and Yoni are stone images of male and female
genitals that represent the creative force of life.
The Aryans conquered the Dravidians and brought a rudimentary alphabet with them. They adapted the Semitic alphabet to the Sanskrit. By the third century B.C. Brahmi script matured and was used to create literature. The Aryans took the oral Vedas added their own values and wrote them down using the alphabet.
India was late in adopting alphabetic writing. Images remain in it religion.
Kali, Durga, Parvati and Sarasvati are goddesses honored by both men and
women. Hindu art celebrates sexuality of both male and female The major
god Brahman is genderless; nature is worshiped. These all suggest strong
right brain values. Buddhism was a reformation of Hinduism. It retained
doctrine based on feminine values, but disliked sexuality, women, and
birth. It was overcome by a rise in literacy accompanied by patriarchy.
is the birthplace of the yin/yang symbol, which suggests the equality
of the sexes. However, China has been a rigid patriarchy that has abused
and mistreated women for generations. The Chinese written language transformed
ideas into images rather than sounds into letters. It is one of the oldest
written languages still in use. It has 216 radicals, which represent common
nouns or verbs.
However, Chinese characters became very stylized and therefore abstract. Even though it is written vertically, it still requires sequencing for understanding. It requires analysis of characters into radicals. It is much closer to the alphabet than it is to oral language. Therefore it had a masculinizing influence on the culture. Writing of any kind will shift gender politics.
The Axial is the period when many of the influential religious leaders lived. Isaiah, Socrates, Zoroaster, Buddha, Lao-tzu, and Confucius were alive during the Axial period. Each created an abstract system of thought that changed the brains of followers. All of them were literate, and had no important relationship with women. An explanation for the sudden appearance of abstract systems of thought occurring over a wide geographic area at the same time is that literacy enabled the spiritual leaders to a develop a new way of thinking. Unfortunately misogyny accompanies the written word. Men fascinated with writing are sexist. Men that love women spend their time with women not developing abstract systems of thought.
In the West, Jesus attempted to return to a more feminine egalitarian model. He expected them to have faith a right-brained way of knowing. He encouraged nonviolence. His message was mysterious and he used aphorisms, parables and metaphors in his teaching. That’s a very right brain approach. In picking the greatest commandment, Jesus skipped the idea of the first commandment, which forbade image making. Instead, he put the emphasis on love. He said that the end of time was at hand. All of these teachings are counter to left-brain processes.
became Christ after Jesus died. Jesus’ feminine teachings on faith, love,
and peace were transformed after his death to a celebration of death,
suffering and obedience. This alternation between feminine creed and masculine
doctrine reoccurred throughout history. When images are strong, the right
brain processes and values are strong. When writing and reading are emphasized
the left-brain emphasis on laws and hierarchy and orthodoxy are prized.
Paul who was the first to write about Christ had problems with women.
a while during the Dark ages Christianity swung back to imagery in the
decoration of churches, because the people of the congregation did not
understand the language of the service and were illiterate. The age of
Chivalry arose with its adoration of women and Mary became a prominent
figure in individual worship. During this time Carthars and Waldensnsians
appointed women clergy. Celibacy evaporated and priest usually had wives
and children. This began to change with the foundation of the Benedictine
order by the jilted Benedict.
Islam the prophet originally taught that in Allah’s eyes men and women
were equal. However, he cursed imagery and demanded a belief in a single
male god. This god initiated written dialogue through alphabetic writing
with Mohammed. Mohammed’s instantaneous literacy allowed him to read the
sacred words. The Prophet himself wrote nothing. Through one generation
of oral tradition to a final version of the Koran, which was written by
committee, many of the passages were modified unintentionally by the interjection
of the tellers’ or writers’ biases.
In the Renaissance the printing press created a spread of literacy. Popes prohibited marriage for priests, and the church hierarchy became entirely male dominated. The flooding of the culture with alphabetic symbols caused a dramatic shift to the left brain hunter –killer abilities and values. Within the masculine dominated institutional church and the Papacy itself, wealth, pride, competition, and glory were esteemed. The absence of the right-brained, feminine connection helped lead to its ultimate weakening.
led by Luther and Calvin depended completely on written tracts. Their
written instructions to their followers were long and difficult and imageless.
Calvin created the Protestant ethic of simplicity, hard work, self-reliance,
strict morality and literal understanding of the Bible. Once again the
emphasis on literacy and the written word led to violence. The wars between
the Catholic and Protestant factions tore across all of Europe.
The printing press increased literacy. A society that is newly literate finds new ways for its members to interact, creates new forms of government and new forms of religion. Literacy also has undesirable side effects. The religious wars were one such side effect. The period of the violent witch-hunts when women and feminine values were abhorred was another. Literacy is wonderful, but the process of reading and writing initially shifts the individual and culture to the left brain values at the cost of the right brain ones often resulting in violence and the denigration of women.
the west the periods of the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries were
a time of conflict between the forces of The Enlightenment and the advocates
of Romanticism. Newton and his scientific discoveries created a view of
the cosmos where everything was quantifiable and obeyed immutable universal
law. The universe was giant clockwork. This scientific approach is of
course left brained with its emphasis on mathematical skills and law.
the end of the nineteenth century, Westerners had a new world created
by technology. The photograph and the discovery of electromagnetism magnetism
begin to shift culture back to the right brain. Images and fields became
more important than alphabets and linear sequencing. The typewriter came
along and shifted writing from dominant handed left-brain process to a
more balance two-handed process.
Since World War II the way information is transferred has changed and those changes have transformed world culture by balancing feminine and masculine. Television, computers, photocopiers, fax machines and the Internet increase the appreciation of images, women’s rights and the Goddess. Iconic information allows us to look back at the linear qualities of literacy. The benefits of alphabet literacy are life changing. No one wishes to recommend that people should not become literate, but respect for iconic information in conjunction with literacy will bring the two brain hemispheres into better cooperation allowing both individuals and cultures to be more balanced.
case for the theory that when cultures adopt alphabetic writing they suffer
negative side effects is based on circumstantial evidence The right/left,
feminine/masculine/nurture/killer, and intuiter/analyzer dualities are
easily overstated. They are useful in examining history and its complex
patterns. Certainly the masculine energy of the left-brain is responsible
for many of mankind’s greatest achievements.
We are entering a Golden age. The right hemisphere’s values of nurturing and respect for nature can ease the conditions that the left hemispheric values created during its period of dominance. The image came first. Then came five millennia when the written word dominated. With the return of the iconic symbol, women will regain opportunity to achieve their potential.
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