Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...

Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]

Views: 20,694,400

March 17th. 2018 ...

A Little Magickal History

Men and the Goddess

Pirates and Witches

An Open Fire: Healing from Within

November 15th. 2017 ...


Pagan Artist Trading Cards

September 30th. 2017 ...


August 31st. 2017 ...

The White Goddess: A Seminal Work in the Neo-Wiccan Movement.

Gudrun of the Victory Gods

The Goddess Asherah

July 31st. 2017 ...

Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light

Truth and Lies: Finding Wicca

Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers

July 2nd. 2017 ...

Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces

On Preconceived Pagan/Wiccan Political Affiliations

A Distant Thunder: Should You Care?

On Cursing: Politics and Ethos

Ares and Athena

July 1st. 2017 ...

Elements of Magic

June 1st. 2017 ...

Herbal Astrology

The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions

La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength

The Lady on the Stairs

Nahualli: Traditional Aztec Witchcraft and Totems

April 30th. 2017 ...

Nazis Made Us Change Our Name

Why the Faeries?

The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives

Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles

March 30th. 2017 ...

Magic in Daily Life

The East and West of Wiccan Magick

Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords

March 3rd. 2017 ...

Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion

February 10th. 2017 ...

Understanding the Unseen

Kitchen Magic and Memories

January 10th. 2017 ...

The Gray of 'Tween

Becoming a Sacred Dancer

Little Dog, Big Love

December 9th. 2016 ...

A Child's First Yule

November 10th. 2016 ...

What Exactly Is Witchcraft?

A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities

On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans

What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)

October 10th. 2016 ...

Witchcraft from the Outside

September 11th. 2016 ...

Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess

How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)

September 3rd. 2016 ...

Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?

What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?

Nature’s Reward

August 12th. 2016 ...

When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch

Hungarian Belief in Fairies

Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament

Past Midnight

July 13th. 2016 ...

What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses

Magic With A Flick of my Finger

Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum

An Open Mind and Heart

June 13th. 2016 ...

Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality

Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia

My Father, My First God

Life is Awesome... and the Flu

May 15th. 2016 ...

Wiccan Spirituality

Faery Guided Journey

How to Bond with the Elements through Magick

Magical Household Cleaning

Working with the Elements

April 2nd. 2016 ...

Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected

The Evolution of Thought Forms

The Fear of Witchcraft

Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele

Magic in Sentences

Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess

March 28th. 2016 ...

Revisiting The Spiral

Still Practicing

Spring Has Sprung!

January 22nd. 2016 ...

Coming Out of the Broom Closet

Energy and Karma

Community and Perception

December 20th. 2015 ...

Magia y Wicca

October 24th. 2015 ...

The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans

Feeling the Pulse of Autumn

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Article Specs

Article ID: 14717

VoxAcct: 403428

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 2,270

Times Read: 3,166

RSS Views: 19,614
Matriarchy and/or Patriarchy: The Historical Record

Author: Helio
Posted: January 1st. 2012
Times Viewed: 3,166

In modern Wicca and Neo-Pagan Goddess worship in general there is a big push to emphasize the idea that once upon a time all peoples were matriarchal and worshipped the divinity solely in female form. Then, at the dawn of the high civilizations, “Men” took control of the tribes and formed warlike cities, and they demonized the goddess and replaced her with an unloving Sky God. Patriarchy was instituted and the unwarlike goddess worshippers were either crushed or enslaved into a kind of early serfdom.

I am being exaggerative of course, but I must admit that everywhere I turn in Goddess based Neo-Paganism I am confronted with some form of this story as an explanation to why the world is the way it is today. But before I ever discovered Wicca and Neo-Paganism I was a natural-born student of history. I have always had a great mind for it, and the only thing that has ever rivaled my love of studying history is my love of mythology. I am hoping in this article to clear up some of the misunderstandings of history that have become so pervasive in modern Wicca.

First of all, I’d like to state that tracing one’s line of descent from the mother’s side does not make a society matriarchal nor does it necessarily have a reflection on their religious practices. For example, the Etruscans, the pre-Classical Greeks, and the pre-Republican Romans all traced their descent from the mother’s side, yet they were all warlike people with a mix of warlike and unwarlike gods and goddesses. In all three of these cultures ‘War’ personified was a goddess.

Amongst the early Romans there were three deities who were of utmost importance to them: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Juno and Minerva were both viewed as warrior goddesses by the Romans. So in this clearly patriarchal, warrior culture, where women had few rights, two of the three most important deities were goddesses. And it was the goddesses who embodied the arts of warfare, whereas Jupiter was viewed by the early Romans as mostly a rain god and the bestower of sovereignty to kings.

Now someone out there reading this is maybe thinking, ‘well of course the early Romans worshipped female divinities more than male ones; the early Romans were predominately a farming people, and the goddess is closer to the earth regardless of her aspects. It wasn’t till later that the Romans adopted a more patriarchal mythology from the goddess hating city-people in Greece.’

Ah yes, the city-people, I have heard quite a few Wiccan authors and spokespeople make the claim that people in the cities were patriarchal and goddess-hating, while in the country people clung onto matriarchy and the worship of female divinity alone. This shows a great lack of understanding of living conditions in ancient Greece. The cities were the hub of life and all surrounding villages were closely connected with the nearby cities and what went on there. Much of Greece is a narrow, mountainous land, and so villages couldn’t afford to be independent of the cities. Someone born in the country may often have traveled to the city or lived there, and vice versa. So political and religious ideas were very uniform within a given area, regardless if the people lived in the city or the countryside.

The idea that Patriarchs in Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and other civilizations suddenly decided to make war on the goddess and create a male-based religion is a theory that lacks strong proof. If this was true, then why didn’t the goddess cults die out (at least in the cities) and why did the mythologies and religious practices continue to honor a multitude of male and female divinities that all had relatively equal power?

The real answer to why there may have been a slight shift to a male focused religious system has likely more to do with the symbolism of the deities themselves.

To build and successfully maintain a city takes a lot of abstract thinking and city-life generates a lot of leisure time. Abstract thinking and having time to ponder the universe are traits traditionally associated with male deities. Female deities are often more associated with mundane tasks and living within nature. One view is not better than the other; they are a balance, as male and female are at balance. The ancients recognized this and so they blended the male and female myths to create a new harmony.

There was no attempt to ‘destroy’ the cult of the Goddess just because male divinities were suddenly given an equal part to play in the mythologies of Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Claiming that ‘Men’ are at fault for the weakening of the goddess religion, and that somehow people in cities had something to do with it is just an over feministic bias that has nothing to do with Wicca or history. There is no one cause to an event, and certainly no simple causes at that.

Personally I think that the rise patriarchy in the politics and living conditions amongst the ancients has multiple complicated sources to it, rather than the commonly held belief amongst most Wiccans today, which is that Indo-Europeans from the north and Semites from the south came in and violently conquered the earlier peaceful civilizations, and replaced them with the worship of a single Sky God. The claim that these people had a single Sky God is an odd one, seeing as how all these ancient peoples were polytheists and animists with male and female divinities. The Indo-European religion certainly isn’t patriarchal in its outlook. The sky father is equal to the earth mother and the sun, dawn, daylight, waters, and night are all goddesses. In Indo-European myths the goddesses often hold a place of equality with their male counterparts.

The commonly held belief that the Indo-European nomads were warrior ‘Men’ who treated women as property and came into ‘Old Europe’ and overthrew the female led civilization, and established a near paradise for war-loving men is an idea I can’t quite wrap my mind around. The Indo-Europeans spread out across all of Europe, Persia, and northern India, yet examples for viewing them as woman-enslaving patriarchs all come from the places where they mixed more readily with the preexisting native populations, such as Greece, Italy, Persia, and Anatolia. But if you look at Indo-European life-styles in areas where they either tried to avoid mixing with the conquered people or where there weren’t too many other people to mix with a different picture of them begins to develop.

The Celts are the best-known Indo-European culture to most modern Pagans, and it is known that they had powerful goddesses, were occasionally ruled by queens, and had women warriors. These are often interpreted as traits of pre-Indo-European influence, but the Celtic nobility, where these queens and women warriors were coming from, were very uptight about mixing with non-Celts. The druid priests likewise followed very strong Indo-European cultural norms. But the Celts are not the only ancient Indo-European group to grant women equality. It seems to have been a common feature amongst many of the strongly Indo-European based cultures.

The Germanic tribes held certain priestesses in the highest regard as prophetesses. Queens and noble women often held great political sway in court, and as the Romans found out to their surprise German women could fight as well as the men. Graves of female warriors have been found in England from the time of the Saxon invasions.

The Scythians, who were nomads that inhabited the original Indo-European homeland in southern Russia, had a very interesting rite of passage for their women. All girls were trained to fight, just as the boys were. A Scythian woman was not allowed to marry or have sex until she had slain at least three enemies in combat. Warfare certainly was a trait of the Indo-Europeans but it is difficult to say if that makes it a male trait for them or just simply a cultural pastime. And again their deity that was the embodiment of war was a goddess.

So if the Indo-Europeans who are often blamed as patriarchal, goddess haters aren’t what they seem to be at first glance then where did the dual patriarchal religious and political system that tried to do away with the Great Goddess come from? The Yahwehist cult of the ancient Hebrews seems to be the first place where this happens. The Hebrews were not originally monotheistic nor were they close-minded toward other religions. But at some point the priesthood that maintained the cult of their tribal protector, Yahweh, seems to have grown very influential in the political realm of the kingdoms of Israel and Judea. The priests of Yahweh created a new mythology based on Babylonian and Egyptian sources where their god was the sole creator and deity.

The Babylonian empire eventually conquered the Hebrews and many were taken from their homes. The Persians who conquered the Babylonian empire freed them. The Persians at the time followed a less strict monotheistic religion known as Zoroastrianism. The Hebrew priests picked up many of the concepts of Zoroastrianism and brought it back to Israel with them where they sought to unify their disheartened people with their new religious reforms. Thus a strict monotheism with an all-powerful god was set in place. No longer was Yahweh married to Asherah, the queen of heaven; no longer was Eve the goddess of the orchards. Worship of female deities was either abandoned or weakened.

Eventually Christianity and later Islam developed out of this idealism. The difference being that neither of them are tribal religions in the way Judaism was, so they readily spread their ideas across the western world. They took advantage of the dominant role of men in many cultures as a way to make male rulers feel even closer to divinity. And the goddesses were now demonized and women dehumanized.

I am not saying that we should blame Judaism, Christianity, and Islam for the dominance of patriarchy in religion and society, but I feel many have been pointing the accusing finger at people far too long gone to defend themselves or explain themselves. Perhaps instead we should look at the world around us to find the source of tyranny rather than at civilizations and people who maybe are far too different from us for us to fully understand.



Location: Cornell, Wisconsin

Author's Profile: To learn more about Helio - Click HERE

Other Articles: Helio has posted 1 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Helio... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)

To send a private message to Helio ...

Pagan Essays

Pagan Web
8,000 Links

Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.

80,000 Profiles

Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops

Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2018 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World

Search Articles

 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide

NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).