How long have humans been saying, “People don’t change”? Long enough and often enough that it has become a mantra of sorts, especially for those who simply point to history and drop the mic. To speak for another perspective has been to be labeled naïve or idealistic. Until recently.
Question: Is it possible that we are letting ourselves off the hook by believing that we don’t/can’t change? Not much of an incentive to try anything different if it’s futile to begin with, right?
Why does it seem as if that old dog, Humanity, won’t learn some new tricks? Why do we resist change?
Our species’ single most fundamental shift has entailed moving from being primarily matriarchal to overwhelmingly patriarchal. This imbalance has hamstrung our ability to live in harmony, with ourselves and our surroundings.
However, the emerging recalibration of the feminine and masculine means that new conversations are being had. We are digging deeper. Our history is becoming more accessible, more illuminating; our path ahead more tangibly meaningful.
In a short period of time (10,000 years), humans have actually changed a great deal. And we can change again. We are changing. Or more accurately, continuing our evolution. We get caught up in the many failings of our current and recent systems. But, if we can shift our gaze, deeper and wider, we can see that nothing is actually wrong. We are in a long-term process that we are just beginning to grasp.
During this shift, we have the opportunity to create a partnership between the feminine and masculine that will recognize the complementary strengths of both, which in turn will ignite the empathy and imagination required to chart a compassionately productive course.
Patriarchy has dominated for all of recorded history, which is to say only thousands of years. But these years are deemed the most important by the men who have written our history (Note that the word history comes from the Greek historia meaning ‘finding out, narrative, history,’ which comes from histōr which means ‘learned, wise man’)
We place far too much emphasis on this recent history. We’re so enamored with Zeus that we don’t remember he is merely Gaia’s grandson. We have lost touch with the divine feminine, which has gradually been whittled down until it is now but a ripple.
Homo Sapiens were matriarchal for 98% of human history (ie) at least a million years. Historically and genetically speaking, we have spent far more time being matriarchal than otherwise. Archeology, with the feminine-dominated iconography and objects of the Neolithic period, shows unequivocally that the Great Mother was at the center of all.
So, how did the pendulum swing so far towards the masculine? There is much research and opinion on the subject but it’s hard to really know, primarily because over many millennia every one of our systems has been the exclusive creation of rational men, including our economic, medical, justice, military, psychiatric, religious, media, educational and social systems.
Matriarchy was undone by three recent moments in time: (1) The domestication of plants and animals approximately 10,000 years ago, which initiated patriarchal ascendancy. (2) Some 3500 years ago, this relatively new patriarchal system was bolstered by the arrival of the patriarchal religions and secular mythology, which delivered the new concept of ‘god’ as Lord rather than Mother. (3) The coup de gras came 350 years ago with the Age of Reason (and the Rational Man Project), which codified the subjugation of the feminine within all of our modern institutions.
Do we require confirmation that for early and recent humans the most natural and powerful force of growth and change has been childbirth? A human being that grows inside the belly of a woman who then bears that child in a most marvelous and mind-bending ceremony! At least it’s supposed to be a ceremony. It is due to the sidelining of the feminine that we largely take childbirth for granted, and intervene so obtrusively in the birthing process.
Humanity is now in the throes of the next grand birthing process, namely, the re-integration of the feminine. While every birth is intense, this one is proving gruelling because we have lost touch with our fundamental midwife knowledge.
The extent to which we believe that a shift to a more egalitarian posture is not realistically possible is the extent to which we identify with our hyper-rational, masculine culture and history.
And yet, it’s happening. By the day, the numbers of those who are seeing the bigger picture is on the rise. This movement receives very little air-time in our media, which is unconsciously intent on confirming how base we are. Nevertheless, for those with open eyes and hearts, we are moving towards a critical mass. However, in the same way that overt patriarchy was slow-baked into us, it behooves us to be patient, understanding that things take time. It’s a process and the situation is fluid.
That being said, as we can see from our rapid technological leaps, we are living in a time of unprecedented acceleration. Evolutions that used to take ages are now occurring in real time, including the re-integration of the feminine.
Our current patriarchal hegemony is but a blip in time. Its roots barely penetrate the permafrost. But, while there is much to appreciate about our achievements, especially on the technological front, unfettered patriarchy has produced unimaginable suffering.
I have said previously in my writing that this stark imbalance has manifested a multi-generational ‘unconsciousness’ that obscures our ability to see and feel that things can be different. On the one hand this might be ‘true’. On the other hand, if I dig deeper, I see a judgment attached to this perspective that is counter-productive and short-sighted.
This judgment is based on the assumption that something is inherently ‘wrong’ with us; that we are not to be trusted; that we cannot trust ourselves; that we must look outside of ourselves for answers. It is legitimate and necessary to look at our history, in as holistic a manner as possible. But the reality is that we and our ancestors have simply been on the collective human journey. Like it or not, this is the path we have chosen. We, the men and women of the world.
For whatever reasons, which will keep coming into the focus as we invite the feminine back into the fold, ‘this’ is the learning we have wanted and needed. Understandably, we want to deny that ‘this’ is what we have ‘wanted’. But the proof is in the pudding.
This begs the question, sometimes asked sarcastically: Why on earth would we want ‘this’? One issue is that we keep attempting to answer this question from the same thinking that created it (ie) from within a warped feminine-masculine matrix which insists on putting everything in neat and tidy boxes. If it can’t be measured and doesn’t fit in the box we’ll just ignore it; pretend it’s not relevant. Hence, why our ‘solutions’ are perpetually unsatisfying.
Unfortunately, what we ignore, deny and avoid ends up haunting us; calling out to us; trying to let us know that there is more to situation than meets the rational eye. The intellectual and moral bankruptcy of our approach within every arena of our lives, especially politically and economically, has become visceral. The emperor has no clothes, and neither do we.
Ironically, there is one benefit to having missed so many increasingly conspicuous stop signs: When the disconnect becomes this glaring, something has to give.
We’re now in the midst of The Give; the letting go of the clenched fist. The Give is spreading to more and more men and women who are inviting in the long-dormant feminine.
Who knows, maybe we were too matriarchal and there was not enough appreciation for the patriarchal. So the boys had to make themselves heard. Was matriarchy inherently more equitable than patriarchy has been, or is capable of being? We don’t know because, with the painful discarding of the feminine, our collective heart-connection has been severely compromised; as has access to our intuition, conscience, feelings, and the imagination needed to conjure this new shift.
Millennia on, we have become unfamiliar with what the integrated feminine looks and feels like. So, many of us are confused, struggling to make sense of our own lives, let alone the world.
We search, repeatedly, through our life toolbox to try to find just the right apparatus, the right “thing”, to fix what ails us. Alas, we only have eyes for the very same tools, techniques and processes that keep delivering predictably disconcerting results.
Good news. There is a secret compartment in the toolbox that contains a host of long-forgotten tools that are more the domain of the feminine. Really useful tools such as: introspection, receptivity, big picture glasses, gentleness, patience and empathy.
Of course, it’s not a secret compartment at all. What we disown and reject, we don’t want to see, and eventually can’t see. And yet, more and more of us are starting to look from other angles. It’s not a mirage. Life can be so much more juicy and delightful.
The single biggest way of changing ourselves, and our world, is by us, men and women, individually integrating the feminine back into the ‘equation’.
Our resistance to this reintegration, even as it is upon us, is totally understandable. Generation after generation of preposterous human trauma has produced a species that has, for good reason, chosen to take the long and arduous route. Why the long route? Because the shorter path is lined with mirrors that not only reveal who we are but where we have come from. We are afraid to really look and, most importantly, to feel the searing heat of the compounded shame and guilt.
No doubt, there is much amiss in our world, and in many of our lives. It can be traumatizing to behold and experience. At our most heartbroken, we’re not even sure if love and community can prevail, or if they ever existed outside of our stories and dreams of who we are – and who we might be.
But then we experience another moment where another layer of our wall dissolves and we feel the unmistakable embrace of the feminine, of mother. And we know what is possible. We know we can change.
When you can’t find something, is your very first thought always (Every. Single. Time.), “Who took it!?”
In other words, is your default position – in life – to blame anyone other than yourself, whether you’ve misplaced your water bottle or lost your job?
This is an indicator of deep childhood trauma. It is a hair-trigger response that has become hardwired over a lifetime. It represents the formidable defenses you have put in place to protect your Wall; the Wall you erected early on to protect your heart from abuse and neglect.
These fortifications were necessary when you were young. As an adult, they are debilitating, compromising every aspect of your life.
So, how can you stop being a slave to your unconscious defenses?
Once you start to pay closer attention to your thoughts and actions, you can identify your predictable patterns of reaction and behavior.
Then you can begin to create some space, tiny at first, between the situation and your reaction.
Then you can work to expand that space, which provides the opportunity to choose how you react.
Then you can see things more clearly; see your own significant yet unwitting role in creating the situation.
Then you can begin to heal.
In those moments when things go bad, really bad, does your mind quickly reach for the worst case scenario? A sense of abandonment, betrayal, rage, injustice, futility, utter loneliness.
That is a sign of significant past trauma, likely normalized. It is an indication that those who damaged you, or stood by while it happened, have been unable to acknowledge their roles in your suffering.
It is a sign that, understandably, you have been unable in your adult life to reconcile the neglect or abuse.
The way forward is a kind of catch 22. It requires the recognition that those who hurt you didn’t do so purposely. Invariably, they were the actions of damaged, unconscious people who did the best they could while trying to make heads and tails of their own lives. In short, our own healing necessitates forgiving others because, despite what you may believe, they knew not what they did. However twisted their actions, they somehow managed to genuinely, rationally, justify their actions in some way. Because, if we truly felt the pain we inflict on others we wouldn’t be able to do it; it would be too devastating to our own hearts; if we actually allowed ourselves to feel it.
It is this understanding that opens the door to next level healing; that lays the groundwork for arriving at that seemingly faraway place where when someone hurts you, and when you hurt yourself, that you no longer end up touching into the abyss.
From this place, peace and contentment is possible.