Learn more about “Beyond Patriarchy”
Overview of Beyond Patriarchy
The modern era, which we trace to the invention of the printing press in the late 15th century has been marked by dualism (science vs. religion, matter vs. spirit, humanity vs. nature, male vs. female, etc.). One way of naming this dualistic way of looking at ourselves, the earth and one another is: Patriarchy. Patriarchy is a philosophy built on dualisms and therefore on domination of one group over another. Authoritarianism is a logical culmination of a patriarchal philosophy.
But all signs—including the women’s movement—indicate that a Patriarchal philosophy’s time has passed, and it is time to awaken our partnering energy and a way of operating in the world that inspires energy and hope and creativity to re-do the way we live in the world. Learning to relate to Mother Earth in new ways, wiser ways, if our species is to survive.
Today we are finding more and more remains of our hominid cousins around the world, expanding our numbers we know beyond just Neanderthal and Dennison to hominid groups in Africa and in southeast east Asia in particular. We have named fourteen such groups and there will be more. However, the bottom line is this: They are all extinct. We homo sapiens are the last hominid standing. We have accomplished much in less than 300,000 years on the planet. We now stand on a precipice looking into our own extinction—unless we make some fundamental changes in the way we ourselves in relation to Earth and her other creatures; and in relationship to ourselves and one another.
It seems to me that basic to our very survival is developing a philosophy and a practice that lives out gender balance–not gender one-upmanship—and that offers a deeper understanding of both the divine feminine and the sacred masculine than the dominant culture has fed us for thousands of years. That will be the goal of this course.
How will we get there?
We will explore basic archetypes of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine and we will call on the mystics, both men and women, who lived and taught such a philosophy of Compassion and Interdependence. Values that flow from such a philosophy include creativity, joy, wisdom (as distinct from mere knowledge which by itself is raw power), courage, spiritual warriorhood, cosmos (the whole) also known as Father Sky, Gaia (also known as Mother Earth), the Green Man, the Blue Man, Hunter Gatherer, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Elderhood, and more.
Why are the mystics so useful and important in this switch that we must make and make rapidly? In the modern era, as psychologist Theodore Roszak says, “mysticism was held up for ridicule as the worst offense against science and reason.” In examining the mystics, we are exploring what has been most repressed in Western education and religion for centuries. Mysticism is about the experiential side of religion. The mystics are often the most visionary and courageous of humans who go to the edge and explore there.
The mystics assist us to grow our souls—Meister Eckhart says, “God is delighted to watch our souls enlarge.”
And, we are all mystics.
Feminist theologian Dorothee Soelle tells us that transcendence is no longer to be understood as “being independent of everything and ruling over everything else but rather as being bound up in the web of life.” Hildegard of Bingen talks often about the “web of creation” to which we belong and warns us of the dangers to come of we disrupt it. Soelle continues: “We must approach mysticism which comes closest to overcoming the hierarchical masculine concept of God. The mystical truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God grows when we ourselves become one with love by placing ourselves, freely and without guarantee of success, on the side of love.” *
We will also consider the critique of Patriarchy offered by poet and philosopher Adrienne Rich. And women mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and Mary Oliver who offer the new consciousness that honors a deep feminine, our sacred Mother Earth and an authentic masculine.
And we will listen to the male mystics who are deeply non-dualistic like Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Bede Griffiths, Thomas Berry and others.
The mystics gift us with a more ancient and more deep way of living in the world than does the fear and chaos, self-doubt, shame and dualisms engendered by patriarchy. They will assist in awakening the mystic in all of us.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce our July Reflections Parallel class to you entitled, Beyond Patriarchy: Recovering the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine and Why it Matters Today. This magnificent course will be taught by the renowned writer, mystic, and global teacher, Matthew Fox.
Before sharing the theme and write up of this course, I wanted to do a personal introduction to this class because of who Matt is to me. I was a student of Matt’s in graduate school in the late 1970’s. At that time, he was well on his way to earning his reputation as a renegade and dangerously brilliant Dominican priest who openly challenged some of the core doctrines of the Catholic Church, among them the archaic teaching of ‘original sin.’
Matt authored a book entitled, ‘Original Blessing,’ opposing the idea that any human being was flawed by the act of birth. Matt describes his theme in ‘Original Blessing’ in these stunning words: “In speaking of ‘original blessing,’ it is not solely about us humans but about the 13.8 billion years that brought us here. Since ‘blessing’ is the theological word for goodness, whatever the wild goings on in the universe from the fireball to today, the miracle is that we are here and ‘here’ is so special a place, the earth is such an ‘original blessing’ and the amazing critters we share it with from oranges to orangutans, from elephants to polar bears, rainforest, whales, plants, and all the rest that make our lives a blessing also. Actually, Genesis one, talks about ‘original blessing’ when it makes a mantra of how individual creations are ‘good’ (or the same word can be translated ‘beautiful’) and all together, at the end, with humans on board, it is ‘very good’ and/or ‘very beautiful’.”
Inner spiritual liberation is a very difficult sensation to describe, but listening to Matt, a Dominican priest at that time (he has since become an Episcopal priest) introduce cosmic-sized theological ideas as a student launched my inner world and my spiritual imagination. I would suddenly have this inner realization that it was ‘okay’ to feel that I was no longer Catholic or controlled by the parameters of Catholic dogma. I felt spiritually cosmic, not bound by the teachings of my youth.
Because of Matt’s outrageously controversial teachings on the cosmic design of the Divine, I exploded out of conventional Catholicism and began my exploration into the nature of human consciousness. I have memories of driving home from class so excited that I could not keep my attention on the road. My dreams exploded into cosmic night travels, waking up with wild symbolic images and questions already animated in my mind that I had no memory of asking.
Graduate school was my entrance into mystical consciousness, and I have never looked back. Let me add, I chose to study Theology in graduate school because I knew that I needed to break out of my own thinking patterns. I could sense my own intellectual boundaries and I knew I needed guidance to think ‘bigger.’ I didn’t know why I needed to find my way out of my ‘my own way,’ so to speak, but I knew that if I could not think in ‘whole’ thoughts, I would intellectually limp through my life.
It was Matt who told me years ago that I should read the work of Teresa of Avila, as her teachings on the seven mansions of the soul that she presents so stunningly in, The Interior Castle, would so perfectly align to what I had written in, Anatomy of the Spirit. Other than knowing her name, I was unfamiliar with the writings and teachings of Teresa of Avila at the time Matt made that suggestion, but because he pointed me in that direction, I purchased my first book on the writings of Teresa of Avila.
To say that I am delighted to have Matt present a Reflections Parallel course is a masterpiece of understatement. I am once again exploding with delight, enthusiasm, and respect for the subject matter that he has chosen to share. David and I asked him to teach the topic that he felt most enthusiastic about at this time, and he chose, Beyond Patriarchy.
Just as Matt once launched me into cosmic-sized thinking, I know his teachings on this topic will have the same impact on many – if not most – of you. We do not (in general) use the term ‘patriarchy’ to describe archetypal dynamic that is at play in our collective, but from a mystical and archetypal perspective, the powerful forces of the masculine and feminine archetypes are now blending toward the dynamic of holism. That is, the clear polarity between what is male and what is female is becoming unified in a way that we are experiencing in the expanding views of sexual identities, for example. And from another perspective, this blending of masculine and feminine is also creating enormous controversies, as all stages of evolution always do.
Everyone benefits, however, from gaining a higher – indeed cosmic – perspective on this collective and remarkable human journey of transformation that we are all sharing. And now, I will let Matt’s own words describe the class he is offering in July.
Our first session is about the non-patriarchal view of the world as seen by Adrienne Rich, Dorothy Soelle, Hildegard of Bingen and Meister Eckhart.
- How to heal ourselves of narcissistic, anthropocentric views of the world
- Moving from “climbing Jacob’s ladder” to “dancing Sara’s Circle,” from “climbing to sinking”
- Moving from original sin and self-doubt to original blessing and the “spark of the soul” awareness
- Becoming Mystics again: How mysticism is the antidote to patriarchal consciousness: Hildegard of Bingen’s painting of Patriarchy at work
- The Via Positiva and via Negativa of the Mystics
Feminine and Masculine archetypes that grow the soul
Mother Earth (Gaia); Wisdom (bigger than knowledge alone); Masculine archetypes of Father Sky; Green Man.
- How we recover the feminine archetype of Mother Earth
- How we recover the masculine archetype of Father Sky
- How we recover the feminine archetype of Wisdom (as distinct from mere knowledge) and the difference it makes
- How we recover the masculine archetype of the Green Man
Feminine and Masculine Archetypes
Motherhood, Mothering; Compassion Masculine archetypes of Fatherhood, (including mentoring, protecting); Hunter-Gatherer
- Adrienne Rich and Meister Eckhart on Mothering
- Julian of Norwich on the Divine Mother and our work of Compassion, Mothering and Service
- Multiple expressions of Mothering
- Fathering and Mentoring
- Eldership (refirement, not retirement)
- The Hunter-Gatherer in us all
Feminine archetypes of Creativity
Mysticism (listening and Receptivity); Masculine archetypes of the Blue Man; Spiritual Warrior (including courage and prophecy or interfering).
- Creativity: How we are all artists
- How the Divine and the Human, Spirit and us, meet in our creating and co-creating
- Mysticism as Listening and Receptivity
- Masculine archetype of the Blue Man in all of us
- Spiritual Warriorhood: Building up Courage, Learning to Let go and Let Be (Cf. teachings by Hafiz and Eckhart)
- How we are all Prophets and Warriors
The Sacred Marriage
The Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine in service of Mother Earth and the Future.
- Relation of Via Creativa and Imagination to the Via Transformativa
- Relation of Feminine and Masculine to the mystic and prophet in ourselves (and in culture)
- What is courage? How do we develop it?
- How “only a sense of the sacred” (Thomas Berry) will save us today
- The Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine in us all
- Hope for the Earth: The Green Man marries the Black Madonna
The Nobility Inside
Moving from blame, shame, projecting onto others and “fatalistic self-hatred” (Rich) that Patriarchy breeds to “the nobility inside” (Native American prison chaplain)
- Making the journey from Patriarchy to gender balance personally
- Making the journey from Patriarchy to gender balance culturally and socially
- Order of the Sacred Earth
- The role of ritual and ceremony to move us personally, culturally and communally
- Personal Practices that usher in the divine feminine and sacred masculine
About Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox holds a doctorate in spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has authored 35 books on spirituality and contemporary culture that have been translated into 60 languages. Fox has devoted 45 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship. His work is inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and has awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Among his books are Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The Reinvention of Work, A Spirituality Named Compassion and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times.
Fox founded the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California in 1996 where where he was President and professor until 2005. He speaks regularly at professional and community gatherings around the world, and has led a renewal of liturgical forms with “The Cosmic Mass,” which mixes dance, techno and live music, DJ, VJ, rap and contemporary art forms with the Western liturgical tradition. He is a recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award; other recipients have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks. A visiting scholar at the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, NM, and elsewhere, he resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
About Caroline Myss
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Caroline established her own educational institute in 2003, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a diverse array of programs devoted to personal development and draws students from all over the world. In addition to her written work, Caroline maintains a rigorous international workshop and lecture schedule and has produced more than eighty audio/visual products on subjects that include healing, spirituality, personal development, and the study of archetypes.