Yesterday, I posed an open-ended question regarding women’s and men’s gender roles and the concepts surrounding modernity’s spin on “re-awakening” in these roles. And the comments have been great and insightful!
But before I travel down that path of personal pontification over what I believe I’m currently witnessing in this regard, I wanted to relay another story. A story about a matriarchal society. And in some ways, I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it that.
Perhaps “balanced” is a better word.
Now I love aboriginal creation stories. Some people refer to these as myths, but I would say no one story is better conceived than any other and we might all learn something if we stop and take a breath once and a while. Open ourselves up to wider perspectives. Expose ourselves to other cultures and different avenues of thought, reasoning, creativity, and belief.
I came across this story in the book “Genocide of the Mind,” which was recommended to me by my blogging friend Searching for Grady. You should check out Grady’s site as she writes many inspiring posts about spirituality.
The book is a collection of short works authored by Native Americans concerning how their cultures and identities have endured against being erased. There are many fascinating reads in this book, but one of my favorites is “Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit,” written by Leslie Marmon Silko. Ms. Silko is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and a direct descendant of one of three white men, surveyors, who settled permanently there and married into their tribe in the 1870s.
The story begins with acknowledgment of the “Mother Creator.” Tse’itsi’nako – the Thought Woman, the Spider.*
Thought Woman began by thinking of her three sisters, which brought them into being. Together, the sisters thought of the sun, stars, moon, the Earth, the oceans, all of the species on the planet, and the Ka’tsina spirits that reside in the mountains.
The entire Universe was brought into existence by thought. There was no absolute bad or good, only balances and harmonies.
Ebb and Flow.
And the society these wise people developed is a great expression for honoring all life. In short, the Pueblo societies are egalitarian, there is no social status or ladder. No height to attain or fall from. And because the Creator is female, there is no stigma placed on being female and gender is not used to control behavior.
Beauty is considered to be derived from the whole person. It manifests in behavior and relationships with all living entities. It includes a feeling of harmony – visual, aural, sensual – and faces and bodies are not separated from hearts and souls. Any differences in appearance are highly valued and no one would consider something such as “cosmetic surgery” to conform to some social dictate of beauty.
At the Pueblo, it was the women who owned property and the homes. So, the women made the adobe plaster and constructed and reinforced the homes. Men did the basket weaving, wove textiles, and actively participated in child rearing. The most able performed the particular work needed. Duties were not assigned by gender.
Age was not a relevant concept.
No social boundaries were determined by age. If age curtailed a person’s ability to perform a certain function, they simply stopped performing that function. Age was not an issue for marriage either, and people freely married those younger or older than themselves.
Transgender or multi-gender identities were celebrated, respected, and honored as “signs of the Mother Creator’s grace.”
These individuals were believed to have special positions to mediate between the physical and spiritual worlds. And sexual identity could change in individuals over time. Marriage could be between any combination of the sexes. And there was no stigma attached to being married and having another lover.
Pregnancy was always celebrated, regardless of age or marital status.
All children were considered, not only to belong their mother, but to the mother’s entire clan. Children became attached to multiple mothers. Mothers with unplanned pregnancies gave their children to couples without children. The clans thrived. And since women owned the homes and farmland, exact determination of paternity was irrelevant to the passage of property through generations.
In Kiva ceremonies, men would dress and mask as women to pay homage to the female energies.
Traditional stories included women prominently as heroines. One such figure was Kochininako or “Yellow Woman.” Yellow Woman possessed the beauties of passion, daring, and strength, and sometimes proved that acting despite disapproval or concern for appearances was necessary to benefit the village. Her triumphs were often achieved by her sensuality, not through violence and destruction.
Now I must give great credit to Ms. Silko as I have heavily paraphrased her work here. But I believe the story of her people is quite enlightening and found no better way to relate it.
Societies in the Western World have largely been paternalistic to the extreme. Where women and children were regarded as property and treated as such.
I don’t think it is too difficult to see how Laguna Pueblo modeled a more egalitarian and enlightened social structure with people living in balance with each other and with Nature.
At any rate, while not all may agree, and I won’t disparage anyone’s belief system, I believe this glimpse of a culture almost totally eradicated by the Western European conquest of North America serves as a great foundation for future posts where I plan to explore some perceptions of the modern view of what it means for our genders to be conscious or “woke.”
And I want to highlight a comment from one of my friends yesterday that I plan to revisit. Wei said:
“My understanding is that as we evolve more and more toward oneness and higher dimensional existence we will become androgynous beings with perfect harmony within each. I think that is why we see more and more people wanting to express and explore themselves in both ways. I feel it is a great thing because it shows that we human race as a whole is evolving and waking up. We should love and embrace everyone no matter how they wish to express themselves.”
I don’t believe this could be stated better, and I welcome a more harmonious evolution of souls where gender identity is not a source of competition and conflict.
Photo: I found this image on the Internet, in the public domain. It is a 1925 photo taken by Edward S. Curtis of women applying adobe plaster to a home in Laguna Pueblo’s Paguate Village in New Mexico. It traces back to the New Mexico Digital Collections website – Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
*Another synchronicity with the Spider I forgot to mention in my past post “Debabelization – Our Web of Words.”