As I rise at 5:30 each morning, my spirit reawakens in a between-the-worlds realm of absolute beginnings. For those few minutes of quiet and slowly revealing dawn light, I revel in mystical newness, endless possibility, a horizon that is only the future. By 7 am, when I can hear cars on the road and see television screens through windows as I walk to work, normal, plodding space-time has taken over, leaving just a shimmer to linger in my memory.
I remember living all day with this feeling of being at the very beginning of my world when I was a young child and everything that I did and thought was for the first time. I believed this sense was lost forever when I was later taught by society, as so many of us are, that I was only the tiniest, most ordinary mite in a world already built many eons ago by people with a much brighter genius than me.
And then, on my 25th birthday, I heard Merlin Stone speak about When God Was a Woman. As I truly envisioned the Divine with a female face for the first time in my life, I felt a joyful excitement as if I had been transported back to that first second in human history when the insight dawned that a sacred presence exists within ourselves and all of creation that is unseen, but real, and that it can be expressed and shared. Because I had never been taught about Goddess or how to interact with Her, I was able to discover and act on what I knew intuitively within myself about Her in a way that was completely my own. With great fervor I began my own individual journey of the spirit and found that this exhilarating profound newness never left me because the territory I was exploring was completely unfamiliar to me in my own experience.
Like most Taylor Swift fans—and anyone who’s tuned into a pop station on the radio recently—I’ve been listening to (and loving) the song Lavender Haze from Swift’s latest album Midnights. The chorus: “I feel the lavender haze creeping up on me / Surreal, I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say / No deal, the 1950s shit they want from me / I just wanna stay in that lavender haze.”
Swift uses the phrase “lavender haze,” as she explains in an Instagram video, to refer to an intense feeling of being in love, complete with an “all-encompassing love glow.” Presumably in contrast with the “1950s shit” people want from the narrator of the song. From the other lyrics, we might assume that this “1950s shit” includes people’s constant barrage of questions about whether or when the narrator is going to become her lover’s bride—because, of course, “The only kind of girl [people] see / is a one night or a wife.” No other options.
This earth is my sister; I love her daily grace, her silent daring, and how loved I am how we admire the strength in each other, all that we have suffered, all that we have lost, all that we know. We are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget: what she is to me, what I am to her.
These words are from Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature which I often recommend as one of my favorite books. Over the years I have read this passage and others from Woman and Nature aloud with my students, and we have always been moved, most of us to tears. More recently these words have become the center of the “Morning Blessing” on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete.
Imbolc brings an invitation into change, to step into the forge of transformation, to sink into the holy well of healing, to open ourselves up to an evolving path of growth and discovery. It is now that we remember we are our own seeds of promise and while there is time yet to stay in the waiting place biding our time and strengthening our resources so we have what we need to grow, soon we will feel the wheel urging us onward, the call to set forth becoming unmistakable and strong. Let us settle ourselves into center, nestle into trust and determination, and extend outward from here feeling the sweet wind caress us and the fiery forge beckon us as we heed the summons to roll on, the path opening up before us as we move.
On August 26, 1970, I borrowed an old VW bug from my mentor and summer employer Michael Novak to drive from Oyster Bay, Long Island to New York City to take part in the Women’s Strike for Equality march down Fifth Avenue. Some 50,000 women attended the march and another 50,000 took part in sister actions around the United States. The march celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment that gave women the right to vote. The ERA was on our minds, but it was not the only issue on the feminist agenda. We believed that all the walls created by patriarchy would come tumbling down, and soon!
In many cultures of the world, including our own, trees are considered the ancestors of humanity – own our ancestors.
Trees are connected with great goddesses throughout antiquity. We see this in the bible where, as I’ve noted before, the Tree of Life is Eve’s tree for the word Eve means life. It is, in essence, the Tree of Eve. Goddesses in trees feeding humans were common themes in ancient Middle Eastern art. The tree was Hers to give freely of as she wished.
Anthropologist and religious scholar, Mircea Eliade writes extensively about the associations of trees ancestral connection to humans. He calls them both mystical and mythical. His examples include the Miao groups of Southern China and Southeast Asia who “worship the bamboo as their ancestor.” He also notes Australian tribes who view the mimosa as their progenitor. And there is a tribe from Madagascar, called Antaivandrika which means “people of the tree,” who considered themselves descended from the banana tree.
After a spring semester-long sabbatical this year, I am back to campus and to teaching. I was effectively off from January to August and the timing could not have been better. After my dad’s death last July (2021), my world was turned upside down. One of the things that happened with his death was a deep realization that he had a lot to do with my sense of grounding. I wrote about this in a previous post, but I hadn’t quite realized how much he was a source of affirmation and grounding for me, an external one—his death was a catalyst for me to learn how to access that grounding more fully for myself, from within.
Having been on sabbatical, then, was helpful in terms of regaining my brain for research and writing, which was its objective, but also for giving me the time and mental space to work on the grounding aspect of my internal life. A few things came together for me during this time. Leading up to the sabbatical and overlapping with it, I got to participate in the Latinas in Leadership (LIL) program with the Hispanic Theological Initiative – a program designed to strengthen the professional development of the Latina women participants.
My husband, Marty, is a retired podiatrist. He worked in pockets of New York City that were poor and largely immigrant. When he first started his practice, he treated women from China whose feet had been bound. Despite being officially outlawed 1912, footbinding was still being practiced well into modern times. He saw these patients in the 1970s and 80s.
For those who don’t know what it is, young girls, as young as 3-5 would have the bones in their feet broken and then the feet bound with cloth strips. Every few years, the feet would be broken again until the desired result was created. To create that affect, the toes would be flattened against the bottom of the foot and arch would be so broken and damaged that the heel would curl back to the front of the foot. At each of the breakings the girl would need to learn to walk again. One can only imagine that pain of walking on foot bones that had been repeatedly broken. And here is an especially chilling part. The mothers would do it to their own daughters. I won’t go into further gruesome details because they can be easily looked up on the internet. It left the girls crippled for life.
Yet another of my great feminist and spiritual teachers has died. Rosemary Radford Ruether, ecofeminist Catholic theologian, died on May 21st. Her work challenged my thinking and gave me new understandings and perspectives. She was a prolific writer, authoring hundreds of articles and 36 books, and was the quintessential scholar and historian of world religions and ecofeminist thought and theologies. A scholar of the scholastics, she examined the three strains of Western thought: the Hebraic tradition; Platonic-Gnostic; and Pauline-Augustinian in all their complexities to develop an understanding of the nature of Western thought and its implications for the domination of women, nature, and colonized others. As she described her own approach, she drew out the contradictions and complexities in these theologies, careful “to see both negative and positive aspects . . . and to be skeptical of exclusivist views on either side.”[i] Her thought and writing was ever-expanding, and always striving “to see the dominant system of patriarchy, including its racism, classism, and colonialism, in critical perspective,” and to put herself “in places where in solidarity with its victims, I can see it from its underside.”[ii]To this end, she brought together the ecofeminist theologies of women from around the globe, particularly the global south.[iii] Her thought also grew to include critiques of militarism and corporate globalization. Needless to say, I cannot begin to encompass all of her contributions here. So I will focus on the ways her thought has most deeply influenced and inspired my own, as well as my students’.
Yesterday I fell into the river. I had had a long afternoon and had gone to escape for a bit sitting on a bench by the river I live by. I had just gotten done with reading about Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune all being in Pisces. ‘Drip, drip, drip or maybe a huge wave.’ Elsaelsa – The Astrology Blog I had also just gotten done with a Yemaya Mother of the Ocean meditation that I had done for Circle a while back. And as I got back up to go home, I slip-slided all the way down the steep incline in front of the bench.
Plop. Into the river.
I was holding my wallet, my phone, my keys, my glasses and a water bottle. I instantly lost the water bottle but managed to hold the rest above water. I tried to start back up the river bank. And could not. ‘Woman Accidentally Falls Into Raging River and Dies’. My heart rate went up. Okay, it wasn’t raging. I reminded myself that I most likely would not die as I can swim, and I could just go down river to a less steep bank.
But it was most disconcerting.
I forced myself to take a deep breath, threw all my stuff up the significantly steep bank and tried again. My shoe fell off. I was in panic mode. ‘Just get out of the river, Caryn’
As Luke’s Gospel tells it, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, the devil comes to him in the wilderness and tempts him. First, the devil latches onto Jesus’ hunger after forty days of fasting: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Then, he shows Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.” He says, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
I’ve been thinking about this second temptation: all the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world. All can be yours. You just have to worship me. Did Jesus find this appealing? Personally, I find it a little hard to relate to. I have zero interest in ruling the kingdoms of the world, however splendid they might be. The whole proposition sounds like too much limelight and far too much stress. Thank you, devil, but I’m good.
It wasn’t until seminary—and even then, only sporadically—that I learned that many of the foundational figures in Western Christianity held some incredibly sexist attitudes. Somehow, in all my years of attending church, hearing sermons, participating in (and leading) Bible study groups, reading Christian books, and working in ministry, I had missed this historical reality. I just hadn’t thought about it. And the (mostly white male) Christian leaders who shaped my own faith apparently hadn’t thought about it, either. That, or they didn’t think it was important enough to talk about. Or they intentionally tried to keep it on the down low. Or some combination of these things.
In seminary, when influential theologians’ sexist views came up in class, inevitably someone would say—in a wise-sounding tone—“Well, we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, do we?”
As Florida politicians try to ban teachers from including LGBTQ+ issues in the curriculum, admonishing them, “Don’t Say Gay” at school, I’m shouting “GAY!” from the rooftops. Because I’m celebrating the release of my eighth book and first memoir, Queering the American Dream. It’s my queer family’s story of leaving it all and the revolutionary women who taught us how.
Our story began the day the Supreme Court ruled our marriage legal and ended the moment my younger brother’s addiction spiraled into a deadly overdose. In-between were eighteen months of full-time travel with a toddler in tow. Criss-crossing the American landscape, my wife and I came face to face with jaw dropping natural beauty on the one hand, which contrasted with the politics, policies, and people who continued to discriminate against marginalized families like ours on the other. At each stop along the way, a different revolutionary woman from history or mythology guided our footsteps, reminding us that it’s not simply our family who dared to queer the American dream, but a subversive sisterhood of saints who have upended the status quo for centuries. From Vermont to Hawai’i, and everywhere in between, the beauty of the American landscape bore witness to a queer clergywoman whose faith tradition was not enough to sustain her. But the revolutionary women were.
In a world where the words of black women writers, even our very names are often soon forgotten, it is essential and necessary that we live through writing and teaching the words of our great and good writers, whose voices must no longer be silenced, even by death.[i]
– bell hooks
On December 15, 2021, the world lost the great feminist theorist, teacher, activist, and writer bell hooks. As a white feminist theorist, I valued immensely the ways her work widened my partial perspective, challenged my blind sports, and gave me important viewpoints on everything from sexism, racism, classism, pedagogy, militarism, work, and parenting. Her piece on feminist solidarity is the best I know — examining not just the ways we are divided by classism and racism, but also by sexism, addressing the very real and destructive ways that women undermine, abuse, and disregard each other, and how important it is to unlearn this with each other. She used the term “feminist movement,” rather than the feminist movement, knowing it not to be one thing, but rather a verb, a process of moving, changing, and transforming. Championing the power of coming to voice, she spoke truth to power, engaging in honest exploration of often difficult and divisive topics. It was this honest, liberatory voice that spoke throughout her work and made her voice so compelling, and so valuable.
Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We have created this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted March 6, 2019. It is paired with a new guest post abut Margaret Fell which will be posted tomorrow. You can visit the original post here to see the comments.
This linoprint of Margaret Fell can be orderedhere.
Pendle Hill will forever be associated to the Pendle Witches of 1612 who live on in the undying soul of the landscape and its folklore and who inspired my 2010 novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill. Pendle Hill also gave birth to the Quaker movement.
In 1652, George Fox, a simple weaver’s son and cobbler’s apprentice turned dissenting preacher, wandered across England on a spiritual quest. When he climbed Pendle Hill, his revelation came to him—an event that would change both Fox and the world forever. He envisioned a “great multitude waiting to be gathered.”
Moderator’s Note: We here at FAR have been so fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died from cancer in July, 2021. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. To honor her legacy, as well as allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs, we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting. This blog was originally posted July 9, 2012. You can read it long with its original commentshere.
My relationship to God changed when I accused “Him” of everything I thought “He” had done or let be done to women—from allowing us to be beaten and raped and sold into slavery, to not sending us female prophets and saviors, to allowing “Himself” to be portrayed as a “man of war.”
In the silence that followed my outpouring of anger, I heard a still small voice within me say: In God is a woman like yourself. She too has been silenced and had her history stolen from her. Until that moment God had been an “Other” to me. “He” sometimes appeared as a dominating and judgmental Other, and at other times as a loving and supportive Other, but “He” was always an “Other.” I as a woman in my female mind-body definitely was not in “His” image.
Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted June 30, 2012. You can visit it here to see the original comments.
We are going through a huge cultural shift toward restoring the female to her full radiance. However you want to define that, it is rising now, through us.
That which is Sacred, what should we call it? We’ve been told to name it he, him, his. That it was blasphemy to do otherwise, to say she, even as they desecrated the Divine with comparisons to mortal overlords, those cruel masters, despoliators, persecutors. No. Reconsider. That fearful address to an authoritarian punisher takes us far from true reverence. Rather revere the roots of Being, manifesting in all Nature around us, within us. The profound silence, and the Deep calling to the Deep.
Deeply I go down into myself. My god is Dark and like a webbingmade of a hundred roots that drink in silence. ― Rainer Maria Rilke
Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted January 20, 2018. You can visit it here to see the original comments.
Really – everywhere we look – there are dead white guys. National holiday? Most likely in honor of a dead white guy. Statue on a green? Founder of a major Christian denomination? Dead white guy. Classic literature, painting, play, music ‘everyone’ is supposed to know about? Yup, probably by a dead white guy.
It’s a little exhausting.
It’s easy to develop a pretty negative attitude about all these dead white guys. I mean, some of them were pretty questionable if not downright oppressive people. Enough, already! Am I right?
Yes! Yes. Well… sort of. The thing is, some of them really did say and do wonderful, important things. I suppose we should not dismiss an entire portion of our history just on race and gender alone. And, truth is, I have a confession to make. I kind of really love the insights of some of these folks. I guess it’s easy to complain about all these dead white guys… until you fall in love with one of them.
The third day dawns under a cloud. Mourning doves spread their wings across leaden skies. I am walking on air. Two restless nights – a huge truck in the yard – Blocked, my stomach lurches. I read Tributes in a daze. Fierce Little Flower Warrior Woman fights a torrent of waves. She is bridging raging waters forging a New Story.
“Weaving the Visions.” Oh, now I remember where it all began.
She hugged a tree. I plant a seed. Listening to rounds of “light and darkness” I let my body lead.
A serpentine path guides me back to Her Garden. Cradled by Ancestors Rooted in Body I shed another patriarchal skin.
After thirteen years filled with marital strife, I recently moved out. For financial and logistical reasons, we are staying married, focusing on our two children and have put into place a ‘3-3-3’ schedule.
Three days, our daughters are with me. Three days, they are with him. And three days, we are all together at our old home.
I believe that it is a great transitionary plan as it is making the adjustment for our daughters easier, but it is not always the easiest on me.
I call him my Dos Equis as yes, he is husband number two. Perhaps I am a slow learner, but I believe I have been ‘on path’.
Dos Equis wanted us to all go on vacation together, and so we recently drove to Destin, Florida. He feels that our relationship is ‘normal’ and that I have perniciously turned off some essential switch withholding my wifely duties and my support for him.
But it is not normal.
Although I would suppose that far too many of you can relate.
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), well-known Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, “…said once to Marie Bonaparte: ‘The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul is, ‘What does a woman want?’” (“Was will das Weib?”) ― Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (Hogarth Press, 1953) by Ernest Jones.
I don’t believe Freud ever answered the question posed here satisfactorily. Women’s desire—even today—hovers in the taboo category. After all, in our hierarchal, patriarchal society women’s wants/desires are mediated through social structures and institutions that favor men. It’s easy to overlook since we all are spawned and then swim in those patriarchal waters.
I have newly found myself a wife and in the throes of motherhood. In many feminist circles, I have encountered anti-family and anti-wifehood sentiments. The understanding is that to be a wife, and, to be a wife that chooses to start a family, is an oppressive position to occupy as well as the antithesis of the feminist movement. Though I am not typically a fan of tough physical, emotional, soulful labor, these two positions have been the highlights of my life so far.
My daughter embodies both my husband and me, physically. However, she is and will become her own person-soul. She is so young, but her soul is eternal, and has experienced eternity. I am here to help her navigate remembering who she is. She inhabits the intersection of Blackness, divinity, femininity, and infinity. Motherhood has greatly increased my capacity of appreciation for women and what women are capable of doing. Especially from the intersection of Blackness and woman-ness. From the capacity to create, labor, and deliver life to the task of raising Black children in a country that would have them annihilated, emotionally traumatized, and made to accept they are inferior.
Can I recall a time when my resilience surprised me?
My mother always said, “If you feel bad, go out into the garden and eat worms.” Sigh. We didn’t have a garden. My resilience. My head hits the counter, as my father’s hand slams into the back of my head. I am locked in a closet. I am. That would be my mother as I grew up. Kicked up. Weeds grow. They do. What is surprising to me at sixty is not my resilience, but the fact that I never leaned back. Stopped. Being resilient is the inside and out of my blood type—moving through all of my veins. I am surprised if I cut myself there is blood left. But there is. I still bleed.
This is resilience.
Can I recall a time when resistance was the only option?
My father. I am twelve. My best friend is over. I go in the other room with him. I have to. She hears this, my best friend. I resist shame like a knife blade I hold. I leave the room with the blade held out. Shame then holds out a cloak promising me something. A space to hide maybe. I resist. I am in a cold fever. My best friend and I sit; we are watching a documentary on TV. My mother sits behind us. She says to no one, “Things happen at everyone’s house. I bet things happen at your house, too.” My best friend and I say nothing. I resist feeling. On the TV are flamingoes and I will hate flamingoes for the rest of my life.
There’s a pinnacle moment, I believe, when everyone’s path is laid before them. The funny thing about that, is that we usually don’t see that moment, until many years later. It is then, at that sudden moment of clarity, in that epiphany, that it all comes together.
My former husband was in the United States Air Force and from 1990-1992, we were stationed at RAF Greenham Common, in the United Kingdom. When we first received our orders, not even ten minutes after, other service members started to inform us: “You’re going to where all those crazy ass bitches are.” “You’re gonna have to deal with those dike peaceniks.” “Wait until you get a load of those nasty, dirty women. They live at the base, camp out there, never shower, stop the convoys – they’re disgusting pigs.” Continue reading “From Military Wife to Peacebuilder – Learning from the Greenham Common Peace Women by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
All through my childhood a self-portrait, painted by my mother hung above my parents’ bed. I was fascinated by this image of the stern face of my very beautiful mother with her long wavy chestnut hair. In the painting my mother’s body was buried in the sand up to her neck. Behind her, churning waves cascaded onto the shore. A blue sky was visible. A few seashells were scattered around and a large shiny green beetle was crawling over the sand. On the surface this image of my mother with her long curly hair seemed quite serene but as a child the painting disturbed me. It was as if this painting held a key – but to what? My father loved the painting and often commented on it…
I can remember playing at the seashore. My father would dig holes and bury both his children up to their necks in the warm sand that also held us fast…
The meaning we derive from stories—especially religious stories we’ve heard and become familiar with since infancy—shape how we perceive and understand the world. Our beliefs are an amalgam of “my story” (my individual life experience in a specific context) shaped by another story. Who I am is heavily informed by particular narratives and their (often) codified interpretation.
I was raised on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Doctrine is an interpretation of story, the substance of which is thought of as “truth” by believers. The story informing substitutionary atonement is a familiar one, especially to those in Christian circles. Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew living during the Roman occupation of much of the Mediterranean region, was crucified circa 30 C.E. Jesus was a teacher who attracted many followers and often spoke (according to the writers of the gospels) of a coming Kingdom of God. This threatened Roman rule so the Romans killed him.
Is the story factually true? Perhaps. As with so many narratives that are passed down through generations, there are many versions. We find meaning (or not) in the story we have at hand. On one level, Jesus’ crucifixion demonstrates the lengths governments will go to in order to keep themselves in power, showing the oppression, fear, and suffering people endure under despotic rulers. On another level, substitutionary atonement (Jesus died to pay for humanity’s sins) is an interpretation of that story. So often the stories we carry with us, along with a specific interpretation (doctrine), become conflated. Rarely do we stop and unravel the story from the meaning we’ve been given and sometimes appropriated. Continue reading “Not My Story Anymore by Esther Nelson”
You’ve been held in a windowless room for a long time. So long, you can’t remember how long it’s been. You have shackles on your ankles. Sometimes you can see beyond your sleeping pad, sometimes not so much. You’re instructed to perform tasks assigned to you according to the will of your captor. Most days you work so long you feel as if you’ll drop. Sometimes you have enough food to eat, other times not. It’s cold and damp in this holding cell where you’ve lived most of your life. You’ve been sick here, but you have no access to a doctor. You’ve been beaten regularly, physically and verbally, for infractions perceived by your captor. You still have the bruises. You’ve not been outside this place for so long you’ve stopped scraping the number of days you’ve been held captive onto the walls.
But, sometimes, you can faintly hear a voice whispering to you from the outside. It’s a voice that calls to you in quiet moments when the usual crushing noise more easily heard doesn’t drown it out. It’s hard to understand the words the voice is speaking. They sound so foreign to you. The voice suggests there is something else outside this cell. When you ask your captor about it, the reply is always the same…laughter, mocking, anger. So you become afraid to listen.
Then one day your captor gets careless. Or maybe you’re listening closer. The incessant noise seems less. Your captor forgot to lock the shackles on your ankles and bolt the door. You hear the voice outside. It offers you something else. It sounds too good to be true. You’ve heard your captor say as much. You’d been told that the voice offers empty promises that will never become reality. But you ask yourself how much longer you can go on here? So, you stand up at your sleeping pad. Your legs are shaking. The hair is standing up on the back of your neck and carefully, timidly, you walk toward the unbolted door. You reach out. Your hand is shaking as you place it on the knob. You see the red marks from old bruises on your wrists. Something inside you knows you no longer can tolerate this cell. Only, it’s all you’ve ever known, or it’s all you remember.
It’s your moment of truth. You might not get this chance again in your lifetime. Do you turn the knob? Do you step across the threshold and move toward the voice? Or do you shrink back, fearfully choosing the familiar, the devil you know? Do you choose the somewhat reliable crumbs laced with indifference and resentment your abuser has been dishing out for years? Can this really be all there is? Or can you find it in yourself to take a leap of faith? Are you going to continue a life of institutionalized abuse and exploitation or are you going to walk across the threshold into a different life?
In a recent blog on Feminism and Religion,“Insights on Sisterhood,” Eirini Delaki opened a dialogue about problems that arise in women’s circles. According to her, many of us are reacting against the poisonous pedagogy of control which is all too familiar in patriarchal families and patriarchal cultural, religious, and economic institutions. Desiring to be free of hierarchical structures that inhibit our growth and happiness, we often react against all structures.
About 20 years ago I witnessed a performance of the 3 plays of the Oresteia (the Orestes plays) by Aeschylus. I was stunned. Watching them in sequence, I understood that the plays were one of patriarchy’s “just so stories” and that their continuing performance was part and parcel of patriarchy’s perpetuation and legitimation.
According to the myths, Helen, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, ran off to Troy with its prince, Paris. In revenge for his lost honor, Menelaus called the Greeks to attack Troy and bring her back. Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus and king of Mycenae, assembled his ships, but the wind refused to fill their sails. He was told that his army would be allowed to depart only if he killed his daughter Iphigenia. He lured his daughter and her mother Clytemnestra to the place where his ships were waiting with the promise of marriage to Achilles. When they arrived, he killed his daughter and the ships sailed.