In Eller’s article, “Relativizing the Patriarchy: The Sacred History of the Feminist Spirituality Movement,” she focuses on the reconstruction of women’s history starting at the being of human civilization before patriarchal powers dominated female-ruled or egalitarian societies (Eller: 281). She asks and searches for an explanation to why the existence of male dominance has lasted so long. Eller explains that feminist spirituality assumes that the beginning of women’s history is centered on a matriarchal or Goddess worshipping culture. “Women in these societies are assumed to have access to social power, society is believed to reflect “feminine” values, and women are credited with the invention of such cultural products as agriculture, written language, mathematics, and medicine” (Eller: 283). I agree with her that these aspects of women’s life may have existed, but our knowledge of them is foggy due to male interpretations of mythological ideals of the women and due to a lack of evidence that still needs to be found in order to understand a harmonious society like this. She feels that feminist spirituality believes that there was a connection between men and women with the worship of the Goddess and the greater social status of women, by looking at today and the relation to men and God (Eller: 283).
Eller gives examples of archaeological findings of female figurines found at temples and grave sites during the Paleolithic and Neolithic Era, indicating a religious significance to these women, which in turn further indicates that there must have been a matrilineal kinship system. She continues to feel that through mythology too there must have been an ancient matriarchy. The remains of the pantheon built for the gods and goddesses and the mythology of Gaia (Great Mother), “who gave birth to all other deities” (Eller: 84). Her last example comes from the written sources of the Hebrew scriptures that explain the rise of patriarchal religion and the fall of the matriarchal culture. She continues explaining that these patriarchal societies invaded these goddess worship societies and brought oppression over women.
This era brought a dark time to women, especially during the Middle Ages, with the rise of the witch hunts which killed an estimated 100,000 women who were accused of practicing witchcraft. “Some spiritual feminists claim that what the patriarchs were attempting to rid society of was a particular type of woman; one who was not thoroughly controlled by a man” (Eller: 173). Eller explains that patriarchy only brings war, pain and suffering to humankind especially to women. That embracing the Goddess is a time without history because she not history and time to make ends meet, by ending patriarchal dominance. Feminist spirituality is an anti-historical because it is all based from a patriarchal history. We have to start our history from our own points of view and our experiences in order to understand being spiritual women.
Eller, Cynthia. 1991. “Relativizing the Patriarchy: The Sacred History of the Feminist Spirituality Movement.” History of Religion. Vol. 30