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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/20/10

The Great Paradigm Shift, Part 2 (Revisiting Reich): the Rise of Matriarchy and Collapse of Patriarchy (w/Videos)

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To see Part 1 of this series, click here

It is because we are out of rhythm with Nature and the Cosmos, and have lost a reverence for our Mother Earth, whom the ancient Greeks called Gaia, that the biosphere and atmosphere are in such a sorry state today, not to mention humanity. But this alienation and irreverence go far beyond Nature externally, extending to Nature INTERNALLY, to our own biological processes and energies, so that in the past several thousand years we humans have become at odds with ourselves, psychically split, even to the point that our natural energies within were demonized, demonized through the theology/ideology of the Roman Catholic Church in particular, patriarchal religions in general. Hence sexuality, the most glaring example, became crudely identified with Satan, Evil and Original Sin.

It was Freud and his psychoanalytical movement beginning around the early 20th Century that began to expose this disfunctional disharmony within civilized men and women and attempt to deal with. One of Freud's key students, Wilhelm Reich, took Freud's studies a step deeper, into biology and our actual emotional energy processes. He noted the inherent unity of mind and body, viewing his patients as not detached heads or mindless bodies, but as, by nature, integrated beings who, through life traumas often in the earliest years of childhood, had lost their integrity, resulting in neurosis or psychosis. Patients are not mentally ill, but emotionally ill, and this imbalance in the emotions will always play havoc with the body. So he developed that school of psychosomatic therapy which he called Orgonomy, but that has evolved into what is also called Bioenergetic Therapy. Reich is considered by many, if not almost all who work in the psychosomatic realms as the father of psychosomatics.

Reich, who was also a sociologist, focused heavily on the effects of sexual repression on not only the individual, but on society at large, and quickly realized that the driving force behind sexual repression, as well as the other emotions, was and is patriarchy, dating back some six thousand years. Reich and his contemporaries learned that in the pre-patriarchal-dynastic civilizations slowly being uncovered in Crete, Turkey, and southeastern Europe by archaeologists and historians, there had existed, for many thousands of years, systems of matriarchy where the prime symbol and icon tended to be the Great Mother. As studies of indigenous peoples around the world also advanced, it was unveiled that they tended, by and large, to be matriarchal as well, and to be fairly egalitarian.

But it was through the cynical genius of the evolving patriarchies, Reich and many others reasoned, that heavy systems of repression were introduced and then anchored by the priest-crafts via prohibitions, fear allegories and taboos. Therapist Clare Voyens in her article, Sadism in High Places (, which I want every one of you to thoroughly read, took the time to beautifully encapsulate Wilhelm Reich's thoughts and statements on this historical regression of humanity, some of which I want to share with you now:

The first "royal families" appeared in the Bronze Age, during a time of transformation from relatively egalitarian tribal cultures to authoritarian, "patriarchal" ruler-and-slave society. This new type of society instituted a hierarchical class system in which the rulers (the most ruthless thugs) hired priests to proclaim their "divine" mandate to rule. Meanwhile, the slaves (the vast majority of the population) did all the hard work, lived in poverty and died young.

The authoritarian structure of society has persisted for thousands of years, right up to the present day. Some of its worst aspects have been mitigated by small victories of social progress (e.g. "representative democracy", social security, women's votes, workers' rights, benign technology, medical advances, etc), and the word "slave" has mutated into, or been replaced by, a hundred other terms, including "peasant", "serf" and finally "employee" but the hierarchical class structure remains in most countries. And some nations actually still have that unfortunate remnant of brutal, dark ages: royalty.

But since we were talking about the Freudian subconscious, we should mention sex at this point. Institutionalised sexual repression is the key to the question of how authoritarian society has reproduced itself from generation to generation, over thousands of years, even while the economic conditions and technologies underlying those societies have completely transformed.

The post-Freudian psychologist Wilhelm Reich claimed that sexual repression and the "authoritarian family" style of child-rearing are responsible for the perpetuation of what he called "patriarchal society." Reich traced sexually-repressive child-rearing back to the beginning of hierarchical ruler-and-slave society. For example, it was not in the interests of the ruling families the chiefs, royals, lords, barons etc to have their children "promiscuously" reproducing with persons of lower social status. Tight control of child/adolescent sexuality was in the economic and power interests of the rulers (e.g. via fixed marriages and dowries). And, as usual, the priests served their masters the church instituted various strict morals and taboos, putting a "divine" slant on all this control and repression of sex.

Reich's psychological theory is fairly complex, but in a nutshell it claims that the strict authoritarian repression of natural childhood desires leads to an inhibited character structure which is obedient, docile and fearful of authority. To quote Reich:

"[this] has a crippling effect on man's rebellious forces because every vital life-impulse is now burdened with severe fear... in short, morality's aim is to produce acquiescent subjects who, despite distress and humiliation, are adjusted to the authoritarian order. Thus, the family is the authoritarian state in miniature."

So it seems that in the change from egalitarian to authoritarian society, sex transformed from an "innocent", "natural" behaviour to something controlled and suppressed a "commodity in the service of economic subjugation" as Reich puts it. The Christian church went even further and redefined natural sensual pleasures symbolised by Eve in the Garden of Eden as a central part of "Original Sin". In particular, female sexuality, pleasure and eroticism were demonised by the clergy.

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I am a student of history, religion, exoteric and esoteric, the Humanities in general and a tempered advocate for the ultimate manifestation of peace, justice and the unity of humankind through self-realization and mutual respect, although I am not (more...)
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