Question: Nothing is said in the first 5 sessions about when humans began to realize that men played a part in the continuance of the species and the impact that might have had on a change from a Goddess-centered spirituality to a God-centered religion. It seems that I read many years ago that humans began to understand procreation after some animals were domesticated and humans observed their copulation with faster results than say larger animals. It kind of sounds like women were revered for their procreation, were cooperative rather than violent, and were accepting of men, but when men saw their part in procreation, they wanted power over/domination – stick it to women?/sorry. At some point men were considered the creators and woman only the receptacle for the seed which grew into a baby. Later it was realized that it took both.
This question has been growing for me as I read through the materials and if someone brings it up, I’m not sure how to respond except that I’m looking into it.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts and insights.
Sandra Russel said:
As long as we’re admitting that its all speculation anyway… the fictional Earth’s Children series of books that begins with The Clan of the Cave Bear and ends with The Land of the Painted Caves deals primarily with just this subject. In a journey spanning 6 volumes, Author Jean M. Auel chronicles the life of a Cro Magnon Woman; the heroine of the tale Ayla. In the first half of the series all the different Caves (tribes) of peoples believed it was the mixing of a man’s and woman’s spirit that created children. You knew who your Mother was, because she gave birth to you. However, they didn’t have a concept for Fatherhood. Your Mother’s mate was the Man of your Hearth and wasn’t necessarily the biological father. Women were not owned by men. Women chose who they wished to couple with. It was their choice and children were not stigmatized because of it. By the end of the series, Ayla through certain life experiences routine, ritual and beyond the veil has reached the conclusion that no new life can start without men; without a man putting his organ in a woman and leaving his essence. This is as good as any story at speculating how our ancestors discovered the male role in conception during the period of the last Glaciers about 20,000 years ago I believe. And, in just the area where Marija Gimbutus did the vast majority of her research. The last book in the series culminates with the changing of the myths to accommodate this new knowledge. Ayla is called to join the ranks of the Shamans of her people (the Zelandonia) by the Great Earth Mother who reveals to her a new and final verse to the Creation Legend of the Mother’s song. Formerly, it ended:
“The Mother was pleased with the pair She created,
She taught them to love and to care when they mated.
She made them desire to join with each other,
The Gift of their Pleasures came from the Mother.
Before She was through, Her children loved too.”
The new verse representing the new knowledge revealed to Ayla during the trance of her calling:
“Her last Gift; the Knowledge that man has his part,
His need must be spent before new life can start.
It honors the Mother when the couple is paired,
Because woman conceives when Pleasures are shared.
Earth’s Children were blessed. The Mother could rest.”
And, at the end of the book, Ayla’s mate Jondalar ponders the new knowledge:
“He knew that all the children born to Ayla would be of his spirit, his essence, because of who she was, because she loved only him, and it pleased him to know that. And he knew he would love only her, no matter what. But this new Gift of Knowledge, he knew it would change things and couldn’t help but wonder how much.
He wasn’t the only one. Everyone was thinking about it, but one in particular. The woman who was the First Among Those Who Served The Great Earth Mother was sitting quietly in the zelandonia lodge thinking about the new Gift of Knowledge and knew it would change the world.”
And, so it has… And, so it has.
Shirley Ranck said:
The truth is that we are speculating about Old Stone Age times, way before written records and we just don’t know when human beings first learned about the male role in conception. I don’t think early people were as ignorant as we often imagine them to be. However we just don’t know. The best scholarly speculation on the subject is in the two books mentioned on page 48 of Cakes Vol. I. [“The Alphabet Versus The Goddess,”] by Leonard Schlain, and the one by Carol Lee Flinders. You would have to read more than the short summaries to get a sense of their ideas, but they are very interesting. The other possibility is Joseph Campbell who may have written something on this topic in The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology. But feel free to say to your group that nobody really knows. We know there was a shift in human culture from emphasizing and empowering women to more and more empowering of men, and there are many hypotheses as to how and why that happened. So far nobody seems to have the whole truth.
I hope this helps. Very best wishes to you and your Cakes group!