Modern Matriarchal Studies

Helheta / Gunilla Madegård

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                                                   M O D E R N   M A T R I A R C H A L  S T U D I E S  -  A  N E W  P A R A D I G M

 

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO STRUCTURE A SOCIETY...

 

I have a dream which often appears after having fallen asleep, in which I from energetically reaching way back, somehow just bump up in the air and there continue floating around along the airstreams as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

 

Elin Wägner´s dream of a new way of carrying out science in a mutual interchange of give and take between specialised experts and the grassroots, all of them engaged in a common process of investigating and lifelong learning, wherein theory and practice no longer are kept apart, doesn´t seem as unrealistic as the one above of flying though, but quite the contrary to have come true IRL by the initiative taken by the scholars and laypersons of the paradigm of Modern Matriarchal Studies.

 

I think it was Riane Eisler who likened the discovery of the (M)otherworld with the discovery of the world being round instead of flat, and by then all of a sudden realise, that you always have had this notion of the rounded shape under your feet.

 

Someone else commented Marija Gimbutas´ extraordinary findings about our prehistory, by stating that we actually don´t have to learn anything new - but just not forget that, what we already had known.

Anyhow, there is no doubt that the women and men expressing themselves at the World Congresses of Matriarchal Studies / Gift Economy are in possession of a knowing how, not only theoretically but also practically, of which there is a huge lack among today´s male stream scholars and politicians.

IDEAS OF THE NEW PARADIGM OF
MODERN MATRIARCHAL STUDIES
 

by Dr Heide Göttner-Abendroth

 

"A new paradigm emerges when the old one has lost its credibility and starts to decay. The new approach can be used to clarify many open questions that the old paradigm could not satisfactorily solve. And it has political relevance as well: it must not stay confined to academia because, as a new worldview, it affects society and the individuals within it. It is not dependent on one particular individual; rather, it erupts' simultaneously in many different ways and at many different places because the time is ripe for it. It comes into being out of a spiritual and political need, one which no one planned and no one ordered. Several scholars, working independently of each other, are now expressing it for the first time, while maintaining their own specific emphases and perspectives. And in this we see the exciting part of the emergence of a new paradigm, the aspect that confirms its power.

 

 

MODERN MATRIARCHAL STUDIES
Definitions, Scope and Topicality

by Heide Göttner Abendroth

 

INTRODUCTION

Questions of women's rights are questions of human rights: they are not fringe issues, but are at the core of a society's character. The extent of a society's development is most clearly reflected in the freedom women enjoy, and in the extent to which they are able to express their creativity.

 

The way we live today, both as scientists and as members of society, is influenced by a world view – and a sense of history – based, to a large extent, on male principles. This foundation is maintained by structural and mental violence. It is the ideology of universal male dominance and universal patriarchy.

 

The research findings of Modern Matriarchal Studies contradict this world view. The subject of Modern Matriarchal Studies is the investigation and presentation of non-patriarchal societies, those that existed in the past and those that still, to some degree, are still with us now.

 

Even today there are peoples with matriarchal patterns in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

 

None of these is a mere reversal of patriarchy, where women somehow rule over men – as it is often commonly misinterpreted – instead, they are, without exception, egalitarian societies. This means that hierarchies, classes and the domination of one gender by the other are all unknown to them. They are societies that are free of domination, but they still have their guidelines and codes. And this is what makes them so attractive to those looking for a new philosophy to support the creation of a just society.

Matriarchies are the subject of Modern Matriarchal Studies, which investigates and presents matriarchal societies found all over the world. These investigations focus not only on the past, but also pay attention to still existing societies with matriarchal patterns in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific area. Contrary to common belief, none of these is a mere reversal of patriarchy. Rather, they are all gender-egalitarian societies, and many of them are fully egalitarian. This means they have no hierarchies, classes nor domination of one gender by the other.
 

Matriarchal studies started in the middle of the 19th century with the pioneering theories of Johann Jakob Bachofen (1861) and Lewis Henry Morgan (1851). Bachofen’s work is in the field of history of cultures, and it represents a perfect parallel to the work of Morgan (in the field of anthropology/ethnology), who did research in the indigenous society of the Iroquois of his time. For more than a century, the discussion on “mother right“ and “matriarchy“ continued: the subject now was used and abused by all the intellectual schools of thought, and all political parties, each with its distinctly different point of view.

 

Unfortunately, their research didn’t have a really scientific foundation because of the lack of a clear definition of this type of society, and because of a lot of patriarchally biased presuppositions which distorted their findings. This situation continued. Up until recently, research in the field of matriarchy – often covered under false headlines – has lacked scientific defining and an elaborated methodology, in spite of the existence of several competent studies and extensive data collection.
 
This absence of scientific rigor opens up the door to the emotional and ideological, i.e. sexist and racist entanglements that have been a burden for this socio-cultural science from the very beginning. Patriarchy itself has not been critically considered in the treatment of this subject, while stereotypical views of women – and a neurotic fear of women’s alleged power – has often confused the issues.
 
Over the past few decades matriarchal studies have been undergirded with a scientific foundation, developed by Heide Goettner-Abendroth and other scholars, thus  making way for Modern Matriarchal Studies.

 

it articulates a specific definition of terms,
it uses an explicit methodology,
it presents a systematic criticism of the ideological patriarchal bias that characterizes existing social and cultural sciences.
 
In this way a new socio-cultural science has been created, one that represents a new paradigm. The central tenet of this paradigm is that women have not only created society and culture over long periods of human history, but that all subsequent cultural developments originated there.

 

At the 1rst and 2nd World Congres on Matriarchal Studies, many different scholars with diverse standpoints have met together to present the main features and scope of the new paradigm of matriarchal studies. They have reached their conclusions independently of each other. However, the results of their research largely complement each other, and are the building blocks of a new, non-patriarchal worldview. This attests to the usefulness and relevance of this new socio-cultural science – which developed freely, unhampered by any particular school of thought.

 

Some of these scholars hold differing perspectives, and some of their results are contradictory. However, this does not weaken the new paradigm. On the contrary, as with every young science, they actually advance the process of developing new knowledge. The scholars involved in this process have one subject in common: a radical new perception, one that replaces the traditional worldview.

 

Using the term "Matriarchal Studies" implies understanding matriarchal societies' organization as not simply the reversal of the patriarchal form of society, but as a system with its own rules. This latter view has gained credence in the German-speaking countries, but less so in the Anglo-American countries.

 

This situation is partly due to the incorrect translation of Bachofen's Greek term "gynaikokratie," or "rule by women," a term which has been confused with the term "matriarchy." "Rule by women" has never existed in the patriarchal sense of "rule," but matriarchies have existed, in various forms, over very long periods of human history.

 

Not all the scholars (of this new paradigm) call this form of society by the same name; it is variously referred to as "matrifocal, matristic, matricentric or gylanic" society. However, they do agree to the same concept: a form of society which does not have patriarchal patterns and demonstrates a high degree of equilibrium – a society in balance.

 

Up until recently, scientific research in the field of matriarchy has lacked a clear definition and a scientific methodology, in spite of the existence of several competent studies and extensive data collection. This absence of scientific rigor opens up the door to the emotional and ideological entanglements that have been a burden for this science from the beginning. Patriarchy itself has not been critically considered in the treatment of this subject, while stereotypical views of women – and a neurotic fear of women's alleged power – has often confused the issues.

 

 

The differentiated patterns of existing matriarchal societies have been investigated in detail. History alone will not explain how matriarchal people thought and felt, how they conducted their politics and how they lived out their faith. To be able to observe this is an advantage of the anthropological perspective. Over the past few decades, my major work has been to research, describe and present a wide range of matriarchal societies throughout the world. From these exhausive studies, and through a careful, inductive process, I have reached the conclusions from which I derive my arguments. Based on cross-cultural examination of case after case, I have outlined the structures and regulative mechanisms that function across all levels of matriarchal societies.

 

 

Some of these still existing societies are the Mosuo, Yao, Miao and Tan peoples in China, the Chiang people of Tibet, the Minangkabau of Sumatra, the Ainu of Japan, the Trobrianders of Melanesia in the Pacific, the Khasi, Garo and Nayar of India, the Bantu, Akan and Ashanti peoples in Africa, the Berbers and Tuareg of North Africa, the Arawak peoples of South America, the Cuna and Juchitanians of Central America, the Hopi and Pueblo peoples as well as the Iroquois peoples of North America, just to name the main ones. All of them are in danger nowadays of losing their traditional cultures – or have already lost them. I have portrayed them in their socio-cultural and historical context, according to the anthropological evidence available, in my major work called Matriarchy and, additionally, have published a monography Matriarchy in Southern China. All the sources I have used are given in these books.[2]

 

DEFINITION OF A "MATRIARCHAL SOCIETY"

 

 

Now I will present the various criteria, at four different levels, for a definition of matriarchal societies: the economic level, the level of social patterns, the level of political decision making, and the cultural level.
 

At the economic level, matriarchies are most often agricultural societies, but not exclusively so. Goods are distributed according to a system that is identical with the lines of kinship and the patterns of marriage. This system prevents goods from being accumulated by one special person or one special group. Thus, the principles of equality are consciously kept up, and the society is egalitarian and non-accumulating.

 

From a political point of view, matriarchies are societies with perfect mutuality. Every advantage or disadvantage concerning the acquisition of goods is mediated by social rules. For example, at the village festivals, wealthy clans are obliged to invite all inhabitants. They organize the banquet, at which they distribute their wealth to gain honor. Therefore, on the economic level they produce a balanced economy, and so I call matriarchies societies of economic reciprocity.

 

At the social level, matriarchies are based on a union of the extended clan. The people live together in big clans, which are formed according to the principle of matrilineality; that is, kinship is acknowledged exclusively in the female line. The clan's name, and all social positions and political titles, are passed on through the mother's line. Such a matri-clan consists at least of three generations of women: the clan-mother, her daughters, her granddaughters, and the directly related men: the brothers of the mother, and her sons and grandsons. Generally, the matri-clan lives in one big clan-house, which holds anywhere from 10 to more than 100 persons, depending on size and architectural style. The women live there permanently, because daughters and granddaughters never leave the clan-house of their mother when they marry. This is called matrilocality.

What is most important is the fact that women have the power of disposition over the goods of the clan, especially the power to control the sources of nourishment: fields and food. This characteristic feature, besides matrilinearity and matrilocality, grants women such a strong position that these societies are "matriarchal." (Anthropologists do not make a distinction between merely matrilineal, and clearly matriarchal societies. This continues to produce great confusion.)
 
The clans are connected to each other by the patterns of marriage, especially the system of mutual marriage between two clans. Mutual marriage between two clans is not marriage between individuals, but rather a communal marriage. The married people do not leave the houses of their mothers, but practice visiting marriage. Due to additional patterns of marriage between all clans, everyone in a matriarchal village or a matriarchal town is eventually related to everyone else by birth or by marriage.

 

Therefore, I call matriarchies non-hierarchical, horizontal societies of matrilineal kinship.
 
Even the process of making a political decision is organized along the lines of matriarchal kinship.

 

In the clan-house, women and men meet in a council where domestic matters are discussed. No member of the household is excluded. After thorough discussion, each decision is taken by consensus. The same is true for the entire village: if matters concerning the whole village have to be discussed, delegates from every clan-house meet in the village council. These delegates can be the oldest women of the clans (the matriarchs), or the brothers and sons they have chosen to represent the clan. No decision concerning the whole village may be taken without the consensus of all clan-houses. This means that the delegates who are discussing the matter are not the ones who make the decision. It is not in this council that the policy of the village is made, because the delegates function only as bearers of communication. If the council notices that some clan-houses are of a different opinion, the delegates return to the clan-houses to discuss matters further. In this way, consensus is reached in the whole village, step by step.

A population living in the region makes decisions in the same way: delegates from all villages meet to discuss the decisions of their communities. Again, the delegates function only as bearers of communication. In such cases, it is usually men who are elected by their villages. In contrast to the frequent ethnological mistakes made about these men, they are not the "chiefs" and do not, in fact, decide.

 

Every village, and in every village every clan-house, is involved in the process of making the decision, until consensus is reached on the regional level.

 

Therefore, from the political point of view, I call matriarchies egalitarian societies of consensus.

 

These political patterns do not allow the accumulation of political power. In exactly this sense, they are free from domination: They have no class of rulers and no class of suppressed people; that is, the enforcement bodies that are necessary to establish domination are unknown to them.

 

On the cultural level, matriarchal societies do not have the concept of religious transcendence in terms of an unseen, untouchable, and incomprehensible all-powerful God, in contrast to whom the world is devalued as dead matter. In matriarchy, divinity is immanent, for the whole world is regarded as divine. This is evident in the concept of the universe as a goddess who created everything, and of Mother Earth, who brings forth everything living. And everything is endowed with divinity – the smallest pebble and the biggest star, each woman and man, each blade of grass and each mountain.

 

In such a culture, everything is spiritual. In their festivals, following the rhythms of the seasons, everything is celebrated: nature in its manifold expressions, the different clans with their different abilities and tasks, the different genders and the different generations, following the principle of "wealth in diversity." There is no separation between sacred and secular; so everyday tasks such as planting and harvesting, cooking and weaving are, at the same time, meaningful rituals.

 

On the spiritual level, I define matriarchies as sacred societies and cultures of the Goddess.

 

2.THE SCOPE OF MODERN MATRIARCHAL STUDIES
 

Following the argument of my main work, Matriarchy, which is in the process of being published in several consecutive volumes, I briefly want to present my theory of matriarchal society. It shows the scope of modern research on matriarchy. Important research that has already been done on this topic has been, and will continue to be, included in this framework.

 

 

In the first step of developing this theory
 I give an overview of the previous research in matriarchy. I follow the course the research has taken, using examples of the scientific as well as of the political discussion. What becomes obvious is the lack of a clear and complete definition of "matriarchy." Furthermore, in this book I properly frame the method of ideological criticism. This method is necessary to this area of study, because most of the early and contemporary writings about the topic are heavily tainted by patriarchal ideology.

 

 

In the second step of the development of this theory  I therefore formulate the complete structural definition of "matriarchy," a definition we urgently need. It specifies the necessary and adequate characteristics of this form of society. It is not formulated abstractly, but arrived at by investigating the immense amount of ethnological material.

 

 

The systematic step of my anthropological research becomes visible now. I have dedicated the past ten years to this research, because we cannot get a complete definition of "matriarchy" from cultural history alone. There we are only dealing with the remains and fragments of former societies. That is not sufficient for an overall picture. It remains undisputed that these may well be very numerous fragments, and that they may well be extremely important; still they can give us only scattered information. Through historical research alone we cannot know how matriarchal people thought or felt, how they organized their social patterns or political events; in other words, how their society was structured as a whole. In order to gain this knowledge and – as a consequence – to develop a complete definition of "matriarchy," we have to examine the still living examples of this form of society. Fortunately, they still exist on all continents except Europe (see 2).

 

 

In the third step of the development of my theory I use the complete definition of "matriarchy," which I have now extracted, as a scientific tool for a revision of the cultural history of humankind. This history is much longer than the four to five thousand years of patriarchal history. In its longest periods, non-patriarchal societies were developed in which women created culture and embodied the integral center of society. Extant matriarchal societies are the last examples.

 

Fortunately, in this field excellent research is already available, for example, the outstanding work of Marija Gimbutas [4]. It has been extended recently. What is still lacking, however, is the systematic framework, that is, the overall picture of the long history of matriarchy.

It is obvious that such an immense task is impossible without a complete definition of "matriarchy." After it has been formulated in the anthropological part of my theory, we now have, for the very first time, the chance to begin to adequately write the complete history of humankind, and to do so without the distortions of patriarchal prejudices. This new interpretation of history is urgently necessary today, because the patriarchal interpretation of history more and more turns out to be wrong and out-dated.

 

In the fourth step of the development of this theory I write about the problem of the rise of patriarchy. Two important questions have to be answered:

 

1. How could patriarchal patterns develop in the first place?

 

2. HOW COULD THEY SPREAD ALL OVER THE WORLD?

 

The latter is by no means obvious.
In my opinion neither question has been sufficiently answered yet. Instead, a lot of pseudo-explanations have been offered. If we want to explain the development of patriarchy we first of all need clear knowledge about the form of society which existed previously – and that was matriarchy. At present, this knowledge is in the process of being developed. It is the absolute precondition for explaining the development of patriarchy. Otherwise, we begin with false assumptions.

Secondly, a theory about the development of patriarchy has to explain why patriarchal patterns emerged in different places, on different continents, at different times and under different conditions. The answers will be very different for the different regions of the world. This task has not yet been done at all [5].
 
In the fifth step of the development of this theory, I write about the analysis and history of patriarchy. Until now, the history of patriarchy has been written down as a history of domination, as a history "from the top." But there is also the perspective of the history "from the bottom," which shows a completely different picture. It is the history of women, of the oppressed classes, of the colonized, the marginalized and the subcultures. It shows that patriarchy did not succeed in destroying the ancient and long matriarchal traditions on all continents. In the end, it is still parasitically living on these traditions.
 
The task is to show that these traditions (oral traditions, customs, myths, rites, folklore, etc.) have their roots in the preceding traditions, matriarchy [6]. But we can recognize this only with the help of the complete definition of matriarchy. If we can manage to follow the traces backwards through the history of patriarchy and to connect them, this means nothing less than regaining our heritage.

 

 

3. POLITICAL RELEVANCE OF MODERN MATRIARCHAL STUDIES

 

From this outline of modern matriarchal studies it has become clear, that it deals with knowledge held by non-patriarchal, basically egalitarian, social, political and cultural patterns; this knowledge is urgently needed in this late phase of globally destructive patriarchy. Matriarchies – during their long historical epochs and in the still existing societies – have managed to exist without domination, hierarchies, and wars as organized killing. In particular they do not practice violence against women and children – in stark contrast to the patriarchal societies of the world, which are plagued by it.

 

 

Thus it is becoming increasingly clear that matriarchal patterns have great significance for both present and future societies. Matriarchal societies are not merely abstract utopias, constructed according to philosophical constructs that can never be implemented. On the contrary, matriarchal societies have existed throughout long historical periods. They embody practical experience and intellectual creativity, and belong indispensably to humankind's cultural store of knowledge. Their precepts show how life can be organized in such a way that it is based on needs, and is peaceful, non-violent and simply human.
 

 

This is the reason why it is important to recognize the political significance of matriarchal patterns as a way of solving current problems. Even more: matriarchal patterns can show us the path to an egalitarian society that combines spirituality with politics to create another kind of economy and another society. Their economics, politics, social organization and spirituality are inseparably interconnected, and the purpose of all of it is to provide a good life for everybody; this common good is assured through their organizational structures and conventions.

 

Of course, we can not go back and simply transfer historical patterns to the present. For example, the blood-relatedness of the clans, or the sole dependence on agriculture, are not necessarily appropriate today. History and its accompanying social changes cannot be turned backwards. But for our own path into the new egalitarian society, we can gain much stimulation and great insights from these patterns, which have been tried and tested over millennia.

 

Economically, we have arrived at a position where it is no longer possible to further increase the amount of large scale industrial growth, and further inflate the Western standard of living, without running the risk of totally annihilating the biosphere of the earth.

 

A way out of this – one that has been discussed by others – is subsistence economy, based on local and regional units.

 

These communities work frugally and self-sufficiently, and the resulting quality of life is more important to them than producing a great quantity of goods. It is important to support the still existing subsistence societies the world over. Women are the mainstays of these economic structures and the societies that are based on them. They need to be supported and helped to expand, so that they are not sacrificed to the global market. This regionalization, in which women guide the economy, is a matriarchal principle.

 

On the social level, it is important to stop the increasing 'atomisation' of society. It drives people deeper and deeper into desperation and loneliness, making them ill and destructive, providing fertile ground for violence and war.

 

What is necessary is the creation and support of affinity groups, intentional communities of different kinds: they can be neighbourhood associations or regional networks, they may be traditional existing communities, or alternative new ones. These groups are not just interest groups – interest groups are quickly created, but just as easily disbanded. The affinity groups, rather, are formed on the basis of a spiritual-philosophical rapport between the members. This is the basis for creating a symbolic clan as a group of siblings by choice. Here there is far more commitment than there is in a mere interest group.

 

As a matriarchal principle, such affinity groups, which can form affinity clans as siblings by choice, are initiated, directed and kept going by women.

 

Right now women can instigate such groups, and many have already done so. The decisive factors are the needs of women – and especially of children, who are the future of humanity. The focus here is not men's desires for power and dominion, which have led to patriarchal, extended families and political men's clubs and associations that exclude and oppress women. The symbolic matri-clans, based on siblings by choice, do integrate men fully, but do so according to a different set of values, based on mutual care and love instead of power. Men have a better life in this kind of society than they do under patriarchy. It would be a political aim to support the creation of such communities in every possible way.

On the level of political decision making, the matriarchal consensus principle is of utmost importance for a truly egalitarian society.

 

This can be practised in the here and now, anywhere and everywhere. The consensus principle is the foundation for building new matriarchal communities. At the same time, it prevents splinter-groups, cliques or individuals from dominating the group. It brings about a balance between the genders and also the generations, for adolescents and older people have the same standing as everybody else. Furthermore, consensus is the genuine democratic principle, for it provides what formal democracy promises, but never delivers.

 

Following this principle, the small units of these new matri-clans are the true decision-makers, but this can only be practised up to the regional level.

 

According to the subsistence perspective, flourishing and self-sufficient regions are the political aim – not the big nation states, state unions and super powers which are merely serving to increase the power of the powerful and reduce individuals to "human resources."

 

On the spiritual-cultural level, we are bound to bid farewell to all hierarchical religions with a transcendent view of the divine and a claim to the total truth.

 

This has led to the vilification of creation, the environment, and humankind itself – particularly of its women. Instead of this, the aim is a re-enchantment and sanctification of the world as a whole. For according to matriarchal vision, everything in the world is divine.
This leads to everything being honoured and celebrated in a free and creative way – nature in her manifold appearances and various beings, as well as the mulitplicity of the human community. This happens by celebrating the women at one time, at another the men, another the young people, and another the older people. Celebrating them and honouring their special skills and abilities and their "dignities."

 

Every step we take towards this aim of creating a new egalitarian society is worthy of a celebration. For each one of these steps is an act in the creation of a new history, which could provide an example of how all of humanity could live a happier life.

In this way, matriarchal spirituality can once again infuse everything, thereby becoming a normal part of everyday life. At the same time, what again becomes apparent is matriarchal tolerance, for nobody has to "believe" anything. There is no dogma and no teaching; instead there is the continuous, manifold celebration of life and the visible world.
 
In this sense, the path to egalitarian society can only be holistic, without being vague. It has to be concrete, without getting lost in disconnected details. The egalitarian society could also be called "the matriarchal model," which sets out a clear vision and practical guidelines to a better future for all of us.
 

(Translation by Jutta Ried and Karen P. Smith)
Literature
1 Bachofen, Johann, Jakob: Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart 1861, English: Myth, Religion and Mother Right.
2 Goettner-Abendroth, Heide: Das Matriarchat II,1. Stammesgesellschaften in Ostasien, Indonesien, Ozeanien, Verlag Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1991/1999.
----: Das Matriarchat II,2. Stammesgesellschaften in Amerika, Indien, Afrika, Verlag Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2000.
----: Matriarchat in Sdchina, Verlag Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1998.
3 Goettner-Abendroth, Heide: Das Matriarchat I. Geschichte seiner Erforschung, Verlag Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1988-1995.

4 Gimbutas, Marija: The Civilization of the Goddess, Harper&Row, San Francisco 1991.
5 Goettner-Abenroth, Heide: "Notes on the Origin of Patriarchy" (first published in German language 1998), now in: C. Biaggia (ed.) The Rule of Mars. The History and Impact of Patriarchy, KIT 2005.
6 Goettner-Abendroth, Heide: The Goddess and her Heros, in German: Frauenoffensive, Mnchen 1980-1997, in English: Anthony Publishing Company, Stow MA 1995.

Heide Goettner-Abendroth (ed.):
Societies of Peace. Matriarchies Past, Present and Future
Selected papers of the two World Congresses on Matriarchal Studiestriarchal Studies
Inanna Press, York University, Toronto/Canada 2009       buch-societies-of-peace_small 

 

In 2005, the Second World Congress on Matriarchal Studies, titled SOCIETIES OF PEACE was held in San Marcos, at the Texas State University. It took place thanks to the generous sponsorship of Genevieve Vaughan, founding director of the “Center for the Study of the Gift Economy”, and was guided by Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth, founding director of the “HAGIA. International Academy for Modern Matriarchal Studies” in Germany.

 

As a whole, the presentations can be seen to constitute a new research area, an area which has indeed become a social science in its own right, and which now emerges as a new paradigm of human history and society. Overall, the creative impact of women’s contribution to human development was splendidly presented throughout the congresses.
Both congresses were received with great enthusiasm as well in Europe as in the USA. In Luxembourg, there were between 450-500 people present – they came from all over Europe – and in the USA, between 300-400 – they came from all over the world. Most of them were women; among them were many scholars, academically educated or self-educated persons and political activists.

 

At the last day, a political declaration was developed. The speakers and many participants expressed their ideas how to generate concrete alternatives and practical solutions to the patriarchal system of exploitation and what steps could be taken to promote the re- establishment of peaceful societies. This declaration emphasizes the political significance of both of these congresses and of modern Matriarchal Studies.

 

It was the subsequent event to the First World Congress on Matriarchal Studies titled SOCIETIES IN BALANCE which took place in 2003 in Luxembourg/Europe. The first congress was mainly sponsored by that country’s Minister of Family and Women's Affairs, Marie-Josée Jacobs, and was also organised and chaired by Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

 

Both congresses were ground-breaking events, because they represented the largely misunderstood matriarchal societies – that have been shaped primarily by women – to a wider public. Matriarchal societies have a non-violent social structure. They are based on gender equality; their political decisions are made by consensus; insightful and well thought-through principles and social guidelines ensure a peaceful life for all. Before the inauguration of modern Matriarchal Studies 30 years ago, matriarchies had not been impartially investigated by Western social sciences.

 

Matriarchal societies have a long and fascinating history, and despite the destructive disrespect they have been subject to, they continue to exist on various continents.

 

The First Congress in 2003 brought together for the first time scholars from across the world who have up to now been working on this issue in relative isolation. They came from Europe, China, the USA. Thus, a wide-ranging, alternative scientific community came into its own.

 

The Second World Congress went even beyond what had been achieved by the 2003 Congress; this time it brought together indigenous researchers, mostly women, from many of the world’s still existing matriarchal societies. They came from different continents: from North, Central and South America; from North, West and South Africa; from Asia, including China, Sumatra and India. This made the Second World Congress a significantly intercultural event; it set an unparalleled precedent with respect to the meeting of indigenous matriarchal speakers from all over the world. They corrected the distorted perspective often held by non- indigenous peoples, and taught the audience about the non-violent social order of their communities; these are places where all living creatures – humans, animals and nature – are respected and reciprocal equality – regardless of sex and age – is practised.

WHAT MATRIARCHAL POLITICS MEANS
Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth (Germany)
“What is matriarchal politics?
It is based on modern Matriarchal Studies and its aim is to create an egalitarian economy and a peaceful society. How this can be achieved is clearly demonstrated by matriarchal societies whose patterns have lived over millennia. Their economics, politics, social organization, and spirituality are inseparably connected, and the purpose of all of it is to provide a good life for everybody.

Economically, the lesson of matriarchies is to develop a new subsistence economy, based on local and regional units. It is self-sufficiently and creates circles of gift giving. Women are the mainstays of these economic structures. Regionalization under the guidance of women is a way to a matriarchal economy.
On the social level, we learn from matriarchies to create and support communities that are based on affinity. They are formed on the basis of a spiritual-philosophical rapport between the members, who feel like siblings by choice. They form a symbolic matri-clan, because these clans are initiated, created and lead by women. The decisive factors are the needs of women and children who are the future of humanity. Men are intergrated as equal members. On the political level, the matriarchal consensus principle is of utmost importantce for a truly egalitarian society. It is the foundation for building new matriarchal communities. The symbolic matri-clans are the true decision makers, even if the consensus principle is broadened onto local and regional levels.
On the cultural level, the lesson of matriarchies is to leave behind all hierarchical religions with a claim to the total truth. Instead, it is necessary to regard the world as holy, to love and to protect it, because everything in the world is divine. Matriarchal spirituality includes matriarchal tolerance: nobody has to ‘believe’ anything. There is no dogma, but the participation in the continuous, manifold celebration of life and the visible world.

In that way, we can create working ‘matriarchal models’ which are the component parts of a new humane society.”

www.hagia.de

 

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Secondly, a theory about the development of patriarchy has to explain why patriarchal patterns emerged in different places, on different continents, at different times and under different conditions. The answers will be very different for the different regions of the world. This task has not yet been done at all [5].

 

 

In the fifth step of the development of this theory, I write about the analysis and history of patriarchy. Until now, the history of patriarchy has been written down as a history of domination, as a history "from the top." But there is also the perspective of the history "from the bottom," which shows a completely different picture. It is the history of women, of the oppressed classes, of the colonized, the marginalized and the subcultures. It shows that patriarchy did not succeed in destroying the ancient and long matriarchal traditions on all continents. In the end, it is still parasitically living on these traditions.

 

The task is to show that these traditions (oral traditions, customs, myths, rites, folklore, etc.) have their roots in the preceding traditions, matriarchy [6]. But we can recognize this only with the help of the complete definition of matriarchy. If we can manage to follow the traces backwards through the history of patriarchy and to connect them, this means nothing less than regaining our heritage.

 

 

It was the subsequent event to the First World Congress on Matriarchal Studies titled SOCIETIES IN BALANCE which took place in 2003 in Luxembourg/Europe.

 

 

 

The first congress was mainly sponsored by that country’s Minister of Family and Women's Affairs, Marie-Josée Jacobs, and was also organised and chaired by Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth.

 

 

 

Both congresses were ground-breaking events, because they represented the largely misunderstood matriarchal societies – that have been shaped primarily by women – to a wider public.

 

 

 

Matriarchal societies have a non-violent social structure. They are based on gender equality; their political decisions are made by consensus; insightful and well thought-through principles and social guidelines ensure a peaceful life for all. Before the inauguration of modern Matriarchal Studies 30 years ago, matriarchies had not been impartially investigated by Western social sciences.

 

 

 

 

 

Matriarchal societies have a long and fascinating history, and despite the destructive disrespect they have been subject to, they continue to exist on various continents.

 

 

The First Congress in 2003 brought together for the first time scholars from across the world who have up to now been working on this issue in relative isolation. They came from Europe, China, the USA. Thus, a wide-ranging, alternative scientific community came into its own.

 

 

The Second World Congress went even beyond what had been achieved by the 2003 Congress; this time it brought together indigenous researchers, mostly women, from many of the world’s still existing matriarchal societies.

 

 

They came from different continents: from North, Central and South America; from North, West and South Africa; from Asia, including China, Sumatra and India. This made the Second World Congress a significantly intercultural event; it set an unparalleled precedent with respect to the meeting of indigenous matriarchal speakers from all over the world.

 

 

They corrected the distorted perspective often held by non- indigenous peoples, and taught the audience about the non-violent social order of their communities; these are places where all living creatures – humans, animals and nature – are respected and reciprocal equality – regardless of sex and age – is practised.