|The Sweet Medicine Way|
AM 2/8/97 -0500,
Patricia Nell Warren WildcatPrs@aol.com wrote:
Dear Maggie Heineman,
In response to a news item on the Internet,
I just visited the Bridges Across the Divide site, and want to offer my
support and participation. Perhaps you would like to post the attached
article in your table of contents. "The
Let me know what I can do.
|At 01:44 PM 2/9/97, Patricia Nell
I appreciate your sharing this message, with the responses in it. It's nice to have my philosophy get noticed. The gay community knows me only for a few novels. But under the topsoil of fiction, there is a bedrock of thought.
Was interested in the comment that I seem Unitarian. I have great respect for that founding Unitarian, Thomas Jefferson. It is always amusing to see the religious right's efforts to twist his ideas and achievements into something "bible-based." Only through seeing him as Unitarian is it possible to explain our 2nd President as an activist for religious freedom in colonies where all-controlling established religion kept a tight grip on people's lives.
Actually, I am a pagan who strives to educate herself about Life and history, and loves Goddess and God both. I don't belong to Wicca or any organized group...I am doing my own thing. My aim is to help build bridges among Americans of all faiths, Christian and non-Christian. America has many new communities of non-Christians, many of them immigrants, who are going to suffer horribly through this threatened imposition of a bible-based revivalist culture in America. We have Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Shintoists, Muslims, Sufi, Santeria, Bahai, etc. etc.. Older immigrant communities -- Chinese, Jews, native Americans, etc. -- suffered horrible bias in the past, and we don't want this dismal record repeated today. How many students today learn that native tribes were not granted legal religious freedom till 1978, when a court decision struck down federal government bans on their ceremonies and teachings??
America of the millennium has to be big enough to allow the building of mosques, temples, Medicine circles, etc. Only in a 21st-century America of such diversified tolerance will there be any room for the gay community. It worries me to see the growing trend to use zoning laws to criminalize religious meetings in people's homes, because this will target all but a few established and traditional U.S. churches.
I loved the comment that "God is bi." One of the best kept secrets in the English language is that "Deity" means "two". Etymology of religious history has always fascinated me, because of how it reflects the ebb and flow of biases. Personally I think that the historic slogan "There is but one God" has a hidden meaning -- it really refers to the big move to get rid of the Goddess and women's social power. The commandment "You will worship only Jehovah" really means "You will no longer honor His female partner and twin."
Some historians get preachy about how "monotheism is superior to polytheism, and reflects a distinct advance in civilization." This is patriarchal baloney. Historians use the baloney phrase (for instance) when they talk about the ancient Egyptians, and their "many gods," and how things were "better" when the Pharaoh Akhnaton decreed the worship of "one God." Actually most historians today don't understand that all the "individual gods" and "goddess" revered by ancient peoples were aspects of the Great Goddess and God, an expression of their Beingness. A vestige of this ancient vision survives today in the way Catholics talk about Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Mercy, etc...but this doesn't mean that Catholics believe in a whole flock of Marys. The names are just ways of focusing on different aspects of Mary.
Fact is, there is nothing "superior" or "civilized" about any religion that denies the equal input of the female, including in the divine (which comes from the word "diva," by the way). How can a civilization be "superior" to the forces of life that birth its next generation? How can a woman's spiritual authority in her home, with her children, be less than her husband's?? Today's patriarchs -- the Promise Keepers, for example -- are starting a war to take back the ground that the men-only element lost during the last 20 years, so they can re-impose a one-sided view of Creation.
I was already wrestling with this problem as a senior in Catholic college in 1957...the missing female in theology was one of the things that led me to journey onwards from Christianity as traditionally taught. I recognize that "Christianity" as originally created has been horribly skewed over time -- females disenfranchised, the mystic and personal side of belief deeply denied. I have a great deal of respect for those Christians today who are trying to recapture the real spirit of Christianity. Historical evidence shows that women were powerful in the early Christian movement, and I don't think Jesus would have put up with all the hate and bias being preached in his name today.
In my own family history, there are many ways of thinking, and I have investigated many of them... Friends, Mormons, various Protestant religions, Catholics and native American spirituality (I am part native American). I've read Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Tao.
Ultimately it was a native American way, the Sweet Medicine Way, that gave my search a boost of renewal through the 80s. Sweet Medicine came to North America as a result of wars between civilizations in Mexico. The patriarchs and the human-sacrificers won out. Losers launched migrations, the biggest one led by a woman named Temple Doors in the early years of what we call the Christian era. A second wave of northward migration happened after the Spanish conquest...into those parts of North America not yet ruled by the "Iron-Heads." Not all the Indians stayed around to die in the silver mines or submit to forcible Catholic conversion. These migrants married into many of the tribes of North America, and lost their ethnic identity, but their teachings were braided into existing systems everywhere. Some white historians have written about Sweet Medicine, and always interpret "him" as a "Jesus-like figure." Actually Sweet Medicine was a school of thought, not a single teacher, and it emphasized a vision of Life through understanding the complex balances of life cycles, including what goes on in the human being. This is what the "teachings of the Medicine Wheel" are all about. In their medical arts, the "sweet root" is an herb that enhances a woman's milk flow, so it's clear that Sweet Medicine was no Indian Messiah in the traditional European sense.
I learned of these things from a few keepers of histories that I found among my own native relatives. It was wonderful to find information that was still in the oral tradition, and I wove some of this stuff into my 1991 novel "One Is the Sun."
Today I am still journeying into learning. Someday I want to publish two books of essays that I've been working on. "The Poisoned Apple" is about the role of religion and religious controversy in American history. "Will the Real Goddesses and Gods Stand Up?" uses etymology to unfold the real meanings of 20 Goddesses' and Gods' names. I take them out of the dusty academic glass cases, and show that ancient peoples saw them as living forces of real Life. For instance, Nike is not the "Greek goddess of victory". The Greeks stole her from the Egyptians! Nekke is the vulture goddess of upper Egypt, and the motherly bringer of a swift and merciful death. The vulture, as a non-predator, was greatly respected by ancient peoples as a bringer of peace -- it was the symbol of a final "victory" is over the agony of dying. In ancient art she is shown as a beautiful woman with great wings outspread -- you find her everywhere, from Egyptian tomb art to the famous sculpture in the Louvre with her wings and head knocked off. As the debate over euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide gets ever hotter, Nike offers us moderns some food for thought.
If you would like a link to my web site, you can go to http://www.gaywired.com/wildcat. There are other commentaries to be found there, as well as an excerpt from One Is the Sun.
Gee, your message really got me going, so I will quit now.
Nell Warren's Personal Page
in Sexual Orientation: The Sword that Cuts Both Ways (re the APA resolution)