Return of the Goddess
By Edward C. Whitmont
Summary by Jan Kruyff
History demonstrates that consciousness evolves in steps and
phases. The study of consciousness tells us we are in the midst of one such transitional
phase. That the feminine be involved should be a forgone conclusion.
Both the masculine and the feminine are original components of consciousness. Insight into the present struggle
of the feminine is had in understanding from where we have come and where we are going.
In various ways, the present feminine feels devoid of purpose
and downtrodden. The roles of the feminine over recent centuries have become less meaningful
They are characterized as secondary in importance to the role of the masculine.
More so, the present feminine is struggling with forces that are frightening and sometimes
The frightening and unbearable aspects of these forces are the
important ones. They are beyond the so-called intelligent and sophisticated understanding
of present culture. The present day standard of masculine and feminine cannot explain them.
Thus, they inevitably cannot contain them.
These forces of change are the elements of the
archetypal feminine and masculine aspects. In particular, at this point in history, the
feminine archetype is making herself felt.
The present day human problem lies in the fact that basic instinctual
urges are polarized. We live in a world with opposites of social and antisocial, love and
hate, give and receive, etc.
There exists a whole panoply of energies that result from
the action of the archetypal life forces in the earth plane. The acceptance and understanding
of these forces is a tremendous task for human consciousness.
Early, more primitive cultures allocated those forces they could
not grasp to the gods. Thus, these energies were still allowed to exist.
Present day has humanity in a culture where few of the gods remain.
Control and understanding of the vast archetypal energies has been usurped by the human
mind. However, this mind, and its methods are not really up to the task.
The present mind attempts understanding and control via the masculine principles of rationality and codification.
This process stands contra to the basic fact that instinctual urges are polarized. More
so, since rationality and codification are of the masculine realm, the Goddess realm of
birth, death, moods, and emotions are repressed.
Likewise, the domain of Dionysus, Goddess’ consort, of desire, joy, aggression, and destruction are also repressed. Society calls these unnecessary and avoidable.
However, repression cannot eliminate. These energies always exist
and apply pressure from their banishment in the unconscious. More so, what we banish we
don’t know. Thus, we fear them and consider them evil.
This particular problem, though, resulting from the masculine
forces differentiating the ego, and raising consciousness from the primitive appears natural.
Mythology indicates that this is the way these natural life forces develop.
Going deeper into the phases of conscious development, we have
a better appreciation of the processes. The phases of development of consciousness of an
individual are roughly the same as the phases that consciousness of the human race has
had to endure during its evolution.
The magical phase is that of undifferentiated early consciousness. Here the masculine and feminine coexist in a sea of consciousness. Both are at an early stage of development but the feminine character marks this phase. Here
consciousness is more of the feminine aspects of being and becoming, not the masculine
of achieving and ideating.
The feminine is global, field and process oriented. It is functional
rather than abstract and conceptual. This corresponds to early childhood and also the time
in human history when single persons were as herd members. Consciousness here is patterned
as a participant if a group. It is a non-personal process where group interests and values
The mythological phase represents a bridge from the magical phase
to the mental functions. Here there is an inward centering of consciousness and a sense
of I begins to emerge. The sense of I also creates a sense of thou.
This enables social structures. Social order brings the need for the masculine values of structure, ethics,
and morality. Good and bad emerge but only as what is effective for the structure. No specific
value is placed on them. They are only seen as what works and what does not.
As consciousness evolves further, the one reality is fragmented
even more. Multiplicities of mutually exclusive opposites arise like: good versus evil,
subject versus object, etc. This awareness by splitting is masculine in character thus
masculine gains importance.
This divisive and eventually analytic character is of male
character. It is the aspect, which enables the new level of consciousness. These ways have
developed our modern consciousness therefore considered of highest importance. Thus, we
evolved as a patriarchal society where the feminine yin tone consciousness is seen as lesser
Toward the end of this phase the now developed ego sets its strength
against nature within and without. It sets to make itself the absolute and exclusive ruler.
The collective dynamics of the feminine become lost to consciousness.
So the mental or patriarchal ego phase of consciousness, which
we are presently part of, is marked by control of nature, inner and outer. All is categorized
as good or evil. Natural drives, spontaneous emotions and desires do not fit with this
type of consciousness. Thus, the feminine modes of relating are rejected and devalued.
For a better appreciation of how patriarchal consciousness permeates
present culture we can look at four grand myths. As myths they tell how the unconscious
confirms the alienation of the feminine containing cosmos. These myths are expressed in
the: Divine Kingship, Loss of Paradise, Sacrificial Scapegoat, and Inferiority of the Feminine.
These myths also determine our ethos, social structure, and religions.
The Divine Kingship myth is exhibited through the masculine hero-warrior
figure and the enforcer of order. Versions are seen in all cultures from Zeus to Allah
to Our Father in Heaven. This results from the masculine energies needed for the ego to
separate from the great ground of being.
Truly for thousands of years the masculine energies
have been venerated. However, females also have an ego. An ego that has also risen and
separated itself from the great ground of being. And for the female ego to rise and separate
there was a requirement for the same masculine based energies. Thus female warrior figures
as Xena or the Amazons also supported the fighting and separating aspects of the masculine.
This distinction is important for it has been both the males and females in culture, who
by necessity of needing to separate their consciousness from the ground of being, used
masculine based energies. This firm separate ego is needed for both males and females to
understand their uniqueness and individuality. The result is a patriarchal superego or
standard-bearer for persons to aspire to. It is no wonder the divine kingship myth has
The Loss of Paradise myth has also permeated our culture. The
Christian version of the Garden of Eden is probably the best-known example. Imbedded in
this myth is the disconnection from the greater life forces. The lust for life became outlawed
here for it threatened the emergence of the ego. Only small amounts of the raw life forces
are allowed and only those which could support the emerging ego.
As duality further narrowed the allowable scope of being there
was a need for The Scapegoat. Stories abound in the Bible of goat sacrifice rituals and
goat banishment rituals. The duality consciousness exists of opposites; however consciousness
was not able to account for the opposites. Good was tolerated but not the evil. Even though
both sides of the opposites exist in the original ground of consciousness.
The developing ego consciousness could only deal with one half of the duality conundrum so banished and
sacrificed the other half. We experience this banishment today through guilt and defensiveness.
That which isn’t acceptable to the narrow minded patriarchal culture is run out of
town through guilt or defensiveness. Thus is the heritage of our polarized patriarchal
The Repression of the Feminine myth is also rooted in this process.
The images of the feminine being supportive of the ego structure started here. Chances
are the masculine energies really did need support rather than detraction in the difficult
task of separating the ego from the great field.
Thus to be supportive the feminine had to be virginal and good breeders. The continuation of the masculine project of ego development
was paramount in this phase of consciousness development. The feminine energies relating
to the great cycle of life were antithetical to a singularly destined ego thus needed repression.
It is important to note here again that the patriarchal value
systems of our culture did not arise from man conspiring against women. The patriarchal
value system is the result of both men and women needing to use their masculine biased
energies to raise their consciousness from the great ground of being. That another cycle
is upon us is also true. The feminine shall soon have its time in the spotlight.
The previous four patriarchal myths are millennia old. They are
from Bible and pre-Bible times and play to the energies of the psyche working beneath the
conscious level. A myth more appropriate to our time is the Grail Legend. Various versions
of this myth appeared to arise somewhat simultaneously in the late middle ages. It is about
the search for the vessel of ever flowing life. Part of the myth claims the vessel collected
the fluid from the wound of Jesus on the cross.
The various versions of the myths and the rather convoluted stories
of each make it impossible to recount the myth here. However, the components of the myth
and the underlying meaning of the legend are very meaningful. The general components are
of a grail keeper who is called the fisher king.
He has been mysteriously wounded by a spear in the thigh or genitals and the wound will not heal. The wound can only be healed
by that which wounded. Since the king is wounded, the whole land suffers. Various knights
such as Lancelot, Galahad, Gawaine, Bors, and Parsifal pledge to quest for the grail, which
is the vessel of ever flowing life. They go off for many years, and different versions
have different tales of their feats of valor.
Eventually their journeys bring them to the grail castle. They have various peculiar and difficult to comprehend challenges relating
to the dames of the castle often failing the tasks for their one-sided male perspectives.
The task is finally achieved when the knight comes to the attitude of co-operation and
acceptance of what the feminine brings forth. The grail is found, the fisher king is healed,
and all live happily ever after.
This very condensed summary is to highlight the significant points
of the tale to demonstrate the psychological perspective. It is truly a tale for modern
time as it parallels the wound that is resultant from the patriarchy and the need for reemergence
of the feminine.
The wound the king suffers from is the wound of separation by the masculine
energies. It is the devaluing of the feminine principles. The wound can only be healed
by that which caused it. That is the masculine biased ego. The masculine ego must see and
appreciate another mode of relating that is based on the feminine principles for the wound
to be healed. Once this is achieved, the healing flow of the life energies (the grail)
It is important to note that this must be achieved by a mature and well-developed
ego structure. This is represented by the knights who are the standard of mastery of masculine
forces. Before the feminine can return the forces of aggression, separation, and conflict
must be mastered. It is also important to note that this process, of the masculine energies
separating the ego from the great field of consciousness, then relinquishing dominance,
appears to be a natural course of events.
So if the Return of the Goddess is part of the new consciousness
currently unfolding, how shall it be? What changes must we integrate into our beings? First,
let us not be mistaken that this marks a relapse to earlier modes of consciousness where
the feminine principles prevailed.
This would be a return to undifferentiated consciousness,
the “garden of Eden” where immersion in the flow of life inhibited individuality.
The Return of the Goddess means the next step of consciousness evolution. It is a step
further from the present where the necessary shortcomings of the rise from the great field
are compensated for.
The taboos and the forbidden are to be retrieved. These mark the other
half of duality that could not be mediated at the time. The integration of our inner nature
(men and women) will be necessary. The natural themes of sensuality, sexuality and nurturance
are to be allowed. We must accept that what we expel as immoral and unacceptable are part
of universal energies.
These energies must be integrated into our larger framework. The
masculine role of hero, king, and conqueror, now predominant in men and women, is modified
by the role of seeker and discoverer. However, the previous masculine roles are still important.
The new masculine role needs adequate development of ego-firmness and discipline, ethical
integrity, stability and external social adaptation before including the role of seeker
The feminine role will be modified by the revealer, guardian, and challenger.
Femininity will be the role of priestess to the fullness of life as it is. The thinking
function of the mind, which is critical for the ego to attain initial separation, will
have to give equal importance to the feeling function. For only through the feeling function
can we recognize and honor the fullness of the universal life forces.
It is important to underline that these changes will be part
of the new consciousness of both males and females in our culture. Some may find adaptation
easier than others as there may be a propensity to these new values. Most important, and
what the Return of the Goddess is not, is the inclusion or acceptance of the female in
the patriarchal mode of consciousness.
It is the broadening of consciousness from a valuing
of masculine modes to the integration and equal valuing of the feminine modes of consciousness.
What comes after that? Who knows? But chances are that
as those next modes of consciousness start to rise from the unconscious and put pressure
on the human psyche, that another level of myths ripe and pregnant with meaning will emerge
into the culture.
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