This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt). A similar evolution and change happened in the (farther) East that became dominated by Islam and Hinduism.
To subscribe for this series and other commentaries, go to Janet’s author website at www.janetwise.net, or for this series, http://www.janetwise.net/category/zeitgeist-commentary/
PART II: PUNISHING EVE
At the time of Christ’s death, the religion that would become known as Christianity was a small group, a minuscule portion of the world’s population. Some scholars have speculated that had the Romans not crucified Christ – he was after all, just a little-known preacher who wandered around the hinterlands of the central Levant talking of benevolence and good will for the poor and for one another to small flocks of peasants, slaves, and the down-trodden – this sect of Hebrews with strange beliefs and superstitions would have died away like many others had before in the annals of human history, to be remarked upon only by a handful of curious historians.
Early Christians gained compassionate notoriety after Christ’s crucifixion by adherents to the Christian faith being martyred in gruesome death spectacles rather than denounce their religion and pay tribute to the Roman gods. But after Roman Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 313 A.D. everything changed. Once Constantine became a Christian the Church (which was by then ruled by the Catholics, having driven the Gnostics underground) became tightly embedded with privilege, wealth, and political power in the empire and remained so ever after in all of Western civilization. In addition to denouncing women as sinful and carnal – the cause of man’s fall from grace – a Christian philosophy deeply embedded in our Western culture is “dominion;” man having the naturally ordained right to have dominion over, including raping, pillaging, and plundering the (female) Earth for profit. This Christian right-of-the-male to dominate definitely migrated to the United States; it drove our Manifest Destiny justifying the genocide of the indigenous people (estimated to be in the millions) whose land we invaded, and it drives our unfettered capitalism – slaughter, confiscation and exploitation without accountability; the accepted methodology of the powerful to amass wealth.
In looking back at pre-Judaism / pre- Christian history of Western civilization, we see that while civilization has advanced technologically, not that much has really changed since patriarchal androcracy slaughtered its way through the region where the high arts of Western civilization were birthed and flourished up until between 5000 to 2000 years ago. The term androcracy is used to describe a social system ruled through force, or threat of force by men. This term derives from Greek root words Andros or “man,” and kratos (as in democratic), or “ruled.” From that definition it is readily apparent that androcracy is indeed alive and thriving in most of the world today, including and especially in the United States of America.
In order to comprehend the devastating impact this violent invasion wreaked we need to understand what constituted civilization during the preexisting ninety-five percent of human history. (Yes, young earth Christian Taliban creationists: human civilization is that old and we did not start fresh at year zero after a great flood.) Particularly, we need to link how the shift from the civilization that was in existence before, to that of androcracy, impacts the psychology and entelechy – that evolutionary memory buried in our cells and brain that propels us into what we are – into our culture today. While androcracy is used frequently as the term defining the underlying rule by force by men for the last 5000 years – there is much evidence that another societal structure was in place for the many millennia that comprised the preceding ninety-five percent of human’s time on Earth. And contrary to the beliefs promulgated by those who do acknowledge humans earlier existence – that human cultures were primitive and barbaric, lacking in laws and governance prior to the Christian ‘civilizing’ of human kind – it was the early cultures who were advanced and who developed all the high arts of civilization. It was the much later Christians who destroyed those high arts, plunging western civilization into over 1600 years of injustice, darkness and death. It wasn’t until around 1750 A.D. that the ‘enlightenment period of science and philosophy’ began to lead civilization out of that darkness. But back to pre-Hebrew/pre-Christians, who were those early people, and how were their cultures organized?
Matilda Joslyn Gage, one of those remarkable American women and scholars who devoted her life to gaining women’s suffrage, wrote in 1893 in Women, Church and State “that the most grievous wrong ever inflicted upon woman has been in the Christian teaching that she was not created equal with man, and the consequent denial of her rightful place in Church and State.” She makes a strong and well-researched case that “in early societies, the Matriarchate, woman ruled; she was first in family, the state, religion, the most ancient records showing that man’s subjection to woman preceded by long ages, that of woman to man. The tribe was united through the mother; social, political, and religious life, were all in harmony with the idea of woman as the first and highest power.” Gage goes on to write “when peoples became aggregated into communities, when tribal relations were recognized, women held superior position that was the controlling power in government; it was a time when justice was never more perfect, and historians agree that civilization was never higher than in the Matriarchate.” She contrasts this with “Even under any early culture’s most degenerate form, the family, governmental, and religious rights of women are more fully recognized than under any phase of Christian civilization.”
Merlin Stone in one of the 20th century’s ground-breaking books examining the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures, When God Was a Woman, quotes archaeologists, Arthur Evans, Walther Hinz, Stephen Langdon, and others in supporting the hypothesis that early human cultures worshiped a female deity. They were matrilineal, in that bloodlines and inheritance were passed through the mother; additionally, that they were more matriarchal where woman was head of the household, clan, and governing structure as opposed to the culture being patriarchal.
Riane Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade makes the case that while there is much evidence that these pre-Judaic / pre-Christian societies were matrilineal, that there was no evidence that women subjugated or oppressed men. In discussing the either/or thinking and use of matriarchal and patriarchal, she writes, “At best, we have words like matriarchy to describe the opposite of patriarchy. She supports the use of partnership and dominator to describe the two contrasting principles of organization; that is, a matrilineal partnership societal organization best describes the early societies when the deity was female, and that dominator best describes the societal structure put in place by the invading tribes that would usher in their male god of mountains and war.
The field of archaeology really came into its own in the 19th century with historians discovering much about humankind’s ancient past. Suffrage advocates, scholars, and writers, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made ample and good use of their findings. Following WWII, renewed excavations of sites along with breakthroughs in the technology of radiocarbon dating – C 14 – allowed for more accurately gauging the date of historical sites, skeletal remains, and artifacts giving us far more information about our ancient past. From this new science, we now know that the period during which bipedal erect mammals began using tools, dates back 2.6 million years. Homo sapiens – humans – have been traced back as far as 200,000 years. More is known about the Upper Paleolithic period dating from 35,000 years to 10,000 years B.C.E. But according to physicist, Fritof Capra, biological evolution of the human species stopped some 50,000 years ago. From then on, evolution proceeded no longer genetically but socially and culturally, while the human body and brain remained essentially the same in structure and size. The period from 10,000 to 2500 B.C.E., classified as the Neolithic, is when highly developed communities cultivated the land, harvested food, developed the technological components and tools of modern civilization including architectural and community planning, herbal medicine, organized labor, governance, mathematics and astronomy, and they created literature and script.
Based on this new knowledge about our past, a plethora of writers emerged from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, history, science, and social sciences, and from the 1950s onward, they reinterpreted the mysteries of ancient civilization. They looked at what was truly visible and present, rather than making suppositions and hypothesis biased by contemporary androcratic cultural filters. This new information turned on its head the previously accepted interpretations that Paleolithic humankind were primitive and barbaric; that they were violent, blood-thirsty hunter warriors where might of the male ruled the tribe, braved the wilds killing game for food survival (most of their food was gathered; although they were both gatherers and hunters, some historians have hypothesized that they were largely vegetarian), clubbed women over the head and drug them off by the hair to their cave. Or that the magnificent paintings in the Chauvet and Lascaux caves in what is now southern France and the fabulous caves of Altamira in northern Spain were painted by men and totally about mystical rites to ensure a successful hunt (even when they were of dancing women and included no animals). More than 350 caves in southern Europe have been found to include exquisite Paleolithic art: the Chauvet cave art dating back to 33,000 B.C.E. But whatever their meaning, early cave paintings are everywhere: Europe, Africa, Australia, North America, South America, and Southeast Asia. The paintings named the Cave of Swimmers in southwest Egypt in the mountainous region of the Sahara Desert featured in Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” are estimated to have been created 10,000 years ago. And many researchers are now hypothesizing that these very sophisticated works of art were more likely painted by women and they depicted ritual worshiping of the Great Goddess.
From the exhaustive work of these new scientific studies, we now know that for thousands of years – at least ninety-five percent of our entire history – human civilization was gender balanced, balanced with nature, and worshipped a female deity. There is later evidence of a male god – he was her son or lover; the begetter. But the Great Goddess – the Mother – came first and reigned supreme. Given that the Old Religion was based on the ways of nature, this is logical for life was reproduced through the female. The horned man god-figure who would later become her consort evolved from the stag (undoubtedly visualized by the hunters who would have followed and observed the herds and would have had to engage in slaying one in close quarters, the stag thrusting with his horns to defend his herd – most likely the inspiration of the spear), to the male god adorned with horns of the goat and the bull indicating the shift to growing and harvesting food and domesticating animals.
By the Neolithic period, the cultures of the European crescent (eastern region around the Mediterranean) developed the cultivation and harvesting of their food in surrounding fields located in lush valleys near water, and quite modern irrigation systems; their architecture grew sophisticated. The style of their architecture that blended harmoniously with the terrain and location of their cities in river valleys and deltas contrasts starkly with later androcratic cultures who built primitive fortresses on the highest hills as protection from neighboring invading tribes also wielding the might of the sword. Bronze and copper were in use for artistry and jewelry, but not for weapons. Clothing had left the time of skins and furs behind, with the invention of weaving and sewing. Rugs were woven and furniture constructed for houses in communities showing evidence of highly evolved town planning.
To gain a perspective of time, in our current era we measure history in centuries – a period of 100 years. The period we are talking about is measured in millennia – 1000 years. We’re talking many, many millennia.
So, yes, for thousands of years, these matriarchal communities that would become the ancestors of Western civilization lived in relative peace throughout the southeastern European continent, into the Mediterranean to Minoan Crete, to Anatolia (what is now Turkey) and beyond to the cradle of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers – later to be known as Sumer (which would still later be called Mesopotamia and the site of Babylon, and what is today, Iraq) and farther south to Egypt. The most advanced of the oldest sites discovered and archaeologically excavated to date are in Anatolia. The twenty-five acre temple hill site of Göbekli Tepe, where at least seven ornately carved circles of stones etched with symbolism relating to constellations of stars, the solstices and equinoxes at one time had well-constructed floors and pinnacled rooftops, date back to at least 9000 B.C.E. (pre-dating the much more primitive Stonehenge by approximately 6000 years). And the famous and intact town site of Catal Huyuk, where both men and women and even people of differing races, worked cooperatively for the common good for over two thousand years, dates back to 7000 B.C.E. The voluptuous female figurines buried in grain bins for a successful harvest and the horned bull skeletons indicate the worship of a Mother representing reproduction, rebirth and abundance and the horned Father for his required contribution of virility and strength. One of the most advanced of the earliest, continuing to the latest, Neolithic cultures where the Mother Goddess reigned supreme was Minoan Crete (6000 – 1100 B.C.E.). The site of Knossos, in addition to its magnificently painted pottery, architecture, frescoes, tablets of symbolism and script from which the Greek alphabet was derived, give evidence of the first interior plumbing including bath tubs and flush toilets and a modern community sewage system.
In spite of the obvious prosperity of these civilizations, in none of these sites is there evidence of class division or of hierarchy; of great wealth for some and poverty for others. The housing was approximately the same size for all, and there were no great tombs filled with treasures for the more powerful among the deceased. Not small villages, they had populations of 10,000 upward, many as large as 50,000 or more. In none of the art work is there depiction of slavery. Certainly, greater male strength was here, but it was not a societal basis for oppression of men over men or over women. Male strength was not to implement organized warfare, or to provide basis for concentration of private property and wealth in the hands of the strongest through force. Women were clearly prominent in these civilizations where life and renewal of life was celebrated, as contrasted with the worship of death.
Of special note: they maintained their population size by managing female reproduction to subsist in harmony with nature’s resources. Among methods used were their knowledge of abortifacient herbs and various forms of cervical caps such as sea sponges. It was when medical and midwifery knowledge would have developed and evolved into the science that was passed down through the ages; though later to be suppressed in Christian androcratic society. And rather than fearing or despising female menstrual blood, or the vagina which was seen as the portal from which all life originated, they revered it. “In the rock shelter known as the Cro-Magnon in Les Eyzies, France (where in 1868 the first skeletal remains of our Upper Paleolithic ancestors were found), around and on the corpses were carefully arranged cowrie shells. These shells, shaped in the form of what religious historian Edward Oliver James discreetly calls “the portal through which a child enters the world,” are seen to have been associated with worship of a female deity. He writes: “The cowries, coated with red ochre pigment, were a life-giving agent. So also was red ochre, still in later traditions the surrogate of the life-giving or menstrual blood of woman.” James goes on to describe how the emphasis seemed to be on the association of woman with the giving and sustaining of life – at the same time, death was associated with resurrection, or of ritual intended to bring the deceased back through rebirth.
Similar evidence has been found in a multitude of locations: all of which support that there was a belief, that the same source from which human life springs is the source for all vegetable and animal life. And that source was the Great Mother Goddess. From what we know from the matriarchal cultures that survived the longest in the southern Mediterranean region, it is logical that their beliefs and practices were handed down by the Paleolithic to the Neolithic. The Old Religion as it is called was associated with abundance, rebirth, transformation, germination, and the womb (of woman and of the Goddess.) It was steeped in the connectedness of all life within Nature – their understanding and lack of understanding, thus their superstitions: of why animals migrated and returned, why seeds germinated into food when buried in the ground and watered, why the earth shook, and water fell from the sky – why bolts of fiery light streaked across the sky when the clouds collided. And because life and awareness of life came from nature, the people of the matriarch revered it; all of their rituals designed for rebirth and regeneration.
Astoundingly, it has only been for approximately 5000 years – five percent, or less, of human history – that the sword began slaughtering these peaceful societies, took young virgins as slaves, and relegating women to serving as technological tools of reproduction, the mythological rib of Adam whose role was as helpmate and to bear many children in pain and agony. Although it took a few thousand years to stamp out the Neolithic matriarchal civilization, it was a change so great, that nothing else in all we know of human cultural evolution is comparable in magnitude.
So who were these invaders? And from where did they come?
Unlike the settled agrarian civilizations that through millennia left us with a multitude of physical clues through their architecture, art, symbolism and early script, they were probably out there: nomadic bands roaming the harsher, more arid, sparser territories, seeking grass for their herds. But of how they grew in numbers and barbaric ferocity, we know little, other than by the signs of invasion disrupting and dislocating the agricultural Neolithic cultures that worshipped the Goddess. Archaeological remains clearly indicate signs of stress of long-established town sites, beginning after 4300 B.C.E. and the gradual disappearance of the magnificently painted pottery in many areas. (Note that date and the irony that it chronicles closely with the Old Testament date of when a male legendary god mythically created the earth and all its inhabitants, according to the timeline established by today’s Christian Taliban literalist Bible believing creationists.)
But sticking with scientifically proven facts: by radiocarbon dating, it is possible to track the waves of steppe pastoralists (or Kurgans) that swept down from the continental Asiatic and European north and northeast. These nomads would later be called Indo-Europeans; later still, they would be idealized by Nietzsche and Hitler as the only pure European race; erroneous as they were clearly not the original Europeans – at least not in the far more culturally advanced European south. But these Kurgans, ruled by powerful priests and warriors, brought with them their male gods of war and mountains. By barbaric slaughter, over the next few thousand years, they began to impose their way of life on the lush lowland agriculturalists who worshipped the female principle of timeless renewal of the seasons which brought new life. They began replacing the matriarch with the patriarch so they could own all property (including captured women) and wealth—the most powerful amassing the most (wealth and property—no more egalitarianism.)
Much later another nomadic invader: the Semitic Hebrews, ruled by warrior-priests, invaded the Levant or the land of Canaan, a region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean (now named Gaza, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.) Like the Indo-Europeans, they brought a fierce and angry male god of war and mountains. The striking similarities between these two groups have led some scholars to conjecture that there may be some common origins – of cultural diffusion. Other historians have been more direct in stating that the Hebrew was a tribe with ancestral bloodlines descending them from the Indo-Europeans.
As mentioned earlier, Minoan Crete was the last holdout of the woman-centered civilization. The Crete civilization began around 6000 B.C.E. or about 8000 years ago, when a small colony of immigrants, probably from Anatolia, first arrived on the island’s shores. They brought the Goddess with them, as well as an agrarian technology that classifies them as Neolithic. It is speculated that their culture lasted as long as it did due to the natural surrounding barrier of the Mediterranean Sea. Though there is much evidence that the Mycenaean Greeks, who traded with and ultimately invaded and overtook Minoan Crete, and would later adopt many of the more civilized ways of the Minoans, the Greeks also worshipped death rather than life. By the Greek Olympian period their male god Zeus had supremacy over Hera and occupied the highest mountain. For the uniquely joyous, prosperous, creatively advanced, egalitarian Minoans, it was all over by 1100 B.C.E., and with their fall, it was the end of an era. For already, a couple of thousand years prior on the surrounding mainland, chaos reigned as townships were being demolished; the magnificent painted pottery was vanishing, as were the frescoes and sculptures with all symbology and knowledge of the woman-centered culture gradually being forced underground. What emerged out of the ashes of the Neolithic was a hierarchic and authoritarian androcratic rulership; the physically strongest, most brutal holding ownership of wealth: land, slaves, livestock and women. In this new order, women were ever increasingly reduced to the status they would continue to hold: male-owned and controlled technologies of production and reproduction. At the same time, the Goddess gradually became the mere consort of male deities whose power was symbolized by weapons of destruction and angry thunderbolts until all but the merest traces of Her disappeared altogether.
We see evidence of this cruelty toward women in the Hebrew Old Testament: Numbers 31 Moses is angry with the officers for saving the women alive.15: And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 17: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 18: But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. As to the booty of war to be divided: 32: And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five hundred sheep. 33: And threescore and twelve thousand beeves. 34: And threescore and one thousand asses. 35: And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
Although we don’t know the exact date of this Hebrew adventure, according to historians who have tried to link Moses’ existence (according to the book of Exodus) with traceable Egyptian pharaoh history, it would have been somewhere between 1690 and 1213 B.C.E.
An earlier law hailing from the late Sumerian kingdom of Ur-Nammu that does give us an exact date comes from Laws of Ur-Nammu No. 7 (2100 B.C.E.) and deals with the first known recorded law on capital punishment discovered to date. It was for adultery: “If the wife of a young man, on her own initiative, approaches a man and initiates sexual relations with him, they shall kill the woman; that male shall be released.” According to other written record from Ur-Nammu, her death would likely have been through impalement (on a long pole through her vagina – really!)
As it has been pointed out, this profound transition between these differing forms of social organization (from revering women’s sexuality to criminalizing it with death but holding man unaccountable for sex he more than likely initiated) beginning approximately 5000 years ago took two to three thousand years. During those millennia, when this merging of the old Goddess worshipping Neolithic with the dominating male god worshiping invaders occurred, there is much evidence of increased sexual atrocities committed against women and slaves; something that was totally absent in the Neolithic women-centered societies. And as the Sumerian law of Ur-Nammu cited shows, there was brutal punishment for female expression of sexuality but not so for men.
With this merging among the many tribes and cultures during those millennia and aided by man’s imagination and of things in his natural world that he didn’t understand, came the development of a plethora of gods and goddesses such as those that became famous in Greek history and mythology. But understanding the Goddess worshiping Neolithic that came before, and how and when this total civilization was destroyed and replaced by a entirely different androcratic social order, is critical in order to grasp the magnitude of this change: the stamping out of many thousands of years of history and achievement of the high arts of civilization, and creating a historical revisionism claiming to be the beginning and only truth of the earth and all life. The foundation of this new system of androcracy was based upon male being superior to female; inherent in this revisionism is that woman is dependent and secondary to man – not only physically but intellectually and spiritually. So much so, that the Hebrew Old Testament claims she is to blame for mankind’s fall from grace, which brings us to the great hoax. Translated, it is the greatest deception ever perpetrated on humankind.
 Note: 5000 years is used as an approximate period, since as will be illustrated, the androcratic invasions took 2000 to 3000 years in the European crescent to change the cultural paradigm of the deity being female to becoming male.
 Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church and State, pp 14-16, (Arno Press, A New York Times Company: New York, 1972) reprinted from Library of Congress copyrighted edition of 1893.
 Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, (Harcourt, Inc., New York, 1976), pp. 30-61
 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, Harper & Row, NY, 1988, pp. 25-26.
 Fritof Capra, The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Bantam Books / published in cooperation with Simon Schuster, 1988, p. 42
 Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, pp. 26-27, quoting from Edward Oliver James, The Ancient Gods, 1960.
 Note: The Old Religion is generally used to refer to the animistic religious reverence of nature, birth, life, rebirth, renewal of the seasons and Mother Earth; the primary deity was the Great Goddess who represented the Earth’s provision and sustenance of all life.
 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future, p. 42
 James Mellaart, Catal Huyuk (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967) p. 225
 Edward Oliver James, Prehistoric Religion (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1957) p. 148
 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, p. 2
 Ibid, p. 3
 Ibid, p. 43
 James Mellaart, The Neolithic of the Near East (New York: Scribner, 1975) p. 280
 Jacquetta Hawkes, Dawn of the Gods: Minoan and Mycenaean Origins of Greece, New York: Random House, 1968, p. 186
 Ibid. p. 30
 Ibid. p. 53
 The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Old Testament, Numbers 31: 15, 17-18, 32-35
 Martha Tobi Roth, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (Scholars Press, January 1995) Laws of Ur-Nammu No. 7, was written on tablets, in the Sumerian language c. 2100–2050 BC. The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code surviving today from king Ur-Nammu of Ur in the land of Sumer.
 Note: Even in Hellenistic Greek religious history and mythology, the Mother came first. She was Gaia.