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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in anthropology

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

As I birth this blog on Mother's Day, I begin a journey into the numinous wilds on a path I'm only partly familiar with. My spirituality has never really focused on gender or sex, though they have sometimes been connected to it, here and there. I have been aware of the more feminine side of spirituality, but have not yet asked to enter the circle of women. I've been on a more solitary path, communing with nature and spirit, getting comfy with my metaphorical hermit cottage near the hedge.

I am a woman, and a mother, as well as a sister/daughter/etc. but due to a disconnection from the insular religion and culture of my birth, I have also been disconnected from my circle of women relatives and the community and friends of my youth. It is a lot like I have gone to live in a different world, and I need to integrate into a new community and form a family that includes the mothering and sisterhood I find myself yearning for. I hope to do so with wise women who aren't deprived by patriarchal forces of their own power, their own mind and spirit... women I could build something with... meaningful action in the world.

In studying anthropology, I've been learning about matrilineal and matrilocal societies where lineage is traced through mothers, and men marry into the clans of their wives, rather than patrilocal systems where women marry and go to live with or near to their husband's family. These societies have strong female networks of family and community that you probably sense an echo of in Western culture despite the exclusion of women from positions of community authority for so long. (Thank Goddess it's changing!) There are still networks, a community of women who hold sway over domestic life, at least. Mothers and grandmothers always held some authority in family life. The matrilineal/matrilocal societies tend to be more egalitarian and less legalistic. They tend to be foraging or horticultural societies, where women are the primary or equal subsistence workers, and benefit from stable and cooperative networks with each other. There are no known examples of a matriarchy – a society in which women exclusively control descent, inheritance, and social and political power. I don't think women have ever needed or wanted that extent of control. We tend to the egalitarian ways.

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  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    I would love to hear more about that, Ashley.
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    I studied anthropology ten years ago and had very similar thoughts on this topic. It has had a powerful influence on my developme

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Or, Material Culture without Materialism.

“’[W]hen a bear has been killed the Ainu sit down and admire it, make their salaams to it, worship it, and offer presents of inao ; when a bear is trapped or wounded by an arrow, the hunters go through an apologetic or propitiatory ceremony.’ The skulls of slain bears receive a place of honour in their huts, or are set up on sacred posts outside the huts, and are treated with much respect: libations of millet beer, and of sake, an intoxicating liquor, are offered to them; and they are addressed as ‘divine preservers’ or ‘precious divinities.’ The skulls of foxes are also fastened to the sacred posts outside the huts; they are regarded as charms against evil spirits, and are consulted as oracles.” (James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough).

 In the Book of Acts, Christian legend recounts the near-disastrous riot caused by a conflict between St. Paul and an Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius. Demetrius made his living crafting statues of Artemis, and Paul’s decrying of the idolatry in Ephesus meant an end to his lucrative trade. So the jeweler roused a crowd to religious fervor to the point where local authorities had to step in and Paul’s disciples had to restrain him from being martyred by the crowd.

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