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ANAHITA  January 2000

ANAHITA January 2000

Subject:

Re: alternatives to the matriarchy/patriarchy

From:

Deborah Ferber <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 3 Jan 2000 20:10:08 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (51 lines)

Robin wrote:
>I am curious as to how the dialogue has opened your eyes in reference to
>matriarchy vs. patriarchy and how the historical concept will clarify this
>issue.

My enthusiasm comes from finally understanding what you and others (Sheila
and Susan) are saying about the search for ancient matriarchies: that such
an approach is like barking up the wrong tree.  I don't know what is meant
by a historical concept, but I like the idea of examining sex-gender power
balances/imbalances through time.

Along these lines, we've also beeen discussing what type of evidence can be
used to try to understand ancient societies.  Robin, you mentioned seeing a
pattern in early supernatural belief systems that allude to a civilization's
perception of the world and how these belief systems tend to remain as
consistent as humanly possible over a long period of time. . .

This makes me think of Jane Harrison's "Prolegomena." She says the same
thing.  I rather like Harrison's approach to understanding the deeper
substratum of religious ritual beneath the classical era in the Aegean:
that the ancient (chthonic) traditions remain embedded in the newer
(Olympian) forms.  For example, the Haloa and Thesmophoria were women's
rituals that focused on the handling of "sacra" and men were excluded from
the core of these rituals. Later, male heirophants and archons became
attached to the pomp and circumstance, but basically these were potent
fertility rites that were deemed the exclusive province of women. These were
also extremely ancient rites.  Might this be one form of "evidence"  that
may help us to know how people long ago might have viewed their world (and
with the leap of faith needed: the role of the sexes)?


Deborah Ferber
Seattle, Washington

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