“…The urgent message from Mother Earth and the archetypal feminine is to gather the women and save the world, because leaving it up to the men is going badly, and will be catastrophic. The premise on which men rule the world is religion, with monotheism the form of religion that is bringing us to the brink.” – From Urgent Message from Mother
According to author Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., the legacy of patriarchal history is competition, domination and control. Patriarchal religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam are hierarchical in nature, sanctioning war against each other and claiming divine superiority and favoritism. Patriarchy revels in the humiliation of enemies and amassing bigger and badder toys—nuclear missiles being the epitome—while women, children, and the planet suffer from male egos run wild.
Invoking the archetypes of Mother and sister/Artemis, Bolen rings the alarm bell as Earth heads towards certain disaster. Unless women rise up, empower others, and lend their voice, she asserts, the vulnerable will continue to pay the price for patriarchal values.
Citing numerous sociological and psychological studies, Bolen shows how—in general—women and men think, behave, and communicate quite differently. For example, stress triggers the “flight or fight” response in men, resulting in isolation and aggression. Women, however, react to stressful conditions with a “tend and befriend” response. Females seek social contact and support, as well as protect and nurture their young. Adrenaline and testosterone promote the “flight or fight” response, while estrogen and oxytocin promotes calm, relaxation, and maternal feelings.
Because of hormonal differences, most women find it stress reducing to admit a mistake or discuss a problem. For them, such problem solving generates ideas, support, and possible resources. For most men, however, there is a hierarchal structure of one-up or one-down. Beginning in the schoolyard, boys learn that asking questions or looking “weak” begets derision, humiliation, and exclusion. Interestingly, this is why men often don’t ask for directions when lost. Projected on the global scale, however, these differences are even more obvious. Women tend to seek compromise and consensus, pursuing what is best for all people—especially the vulnerable. Men, however, often seek to dominate, conquer, and “be right”—with grave consequences.
Using biblical examples like Cain and Abel and the Great Flood, Bolen paints a chilling portrait of what happens when patriarchal spirituality perpetuates unquestioned. She writes:
“Through a psychological lens, the image of the Lord is of a controlling father who overreacts and justifies what he did by blaming the children for bringing it on themselves. Living with an authoritarian father, children learn never to question anything and to accept his rules and punishment.”
When God takes the role of authoritarian father—with males made in his image—women are devalued as belonging to an inferior gender. In fact, the women and children suffer the most from fundamentalist religions who stress male dominance, conquest, and moral, spiritual superiority. Discrimination, genital mutilation, and domestic violence are just a few forms of suffering caused by this kind authoritarianism.
With humor, candor, and compelling anecdotes—as well as various scientific studies—Bolen establishes the differences between patriarchy and its opposite, egalitarianism. Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World traces the effects of established patriarchal beliefs and attitudes on societies and individuals, including how the erasure of the feminine face of God has contributed to violence, war, and poverty. Affirming that women in general have qualities needed for the surviving and thriving of the human family and the planet, Bolen points to two antidotes: 1.The visible power of women together 2.The invisible power of women’s circles Building on previous books such as The Millionth Circle, Bolen offers gripping historical, cultural, and theological insights about the Sacred Feminine as well as practical advice for bringing the feminine principle into consciousness. It is not too late to change direction, helping to heal Mother Earth, our human family, and ourselves:
“It is time to ‘gather the women’—for only when women are strong together can women be fiercely protective of what we love. Only then, will children be safe and peace a real possibility.”
Considering the mess the planet and its inhabitants are in, what do we have to lose by promoting, engaging, and honoring the feminine principle?
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