The Great Cosmic Mother I


Modern sickness is that of disconnection, the ego unable to feel an organic part of the world, except via chemical and popular culture addictions. But when the healers—the physicians of mind and body—do not know themselves what it is we need to be connected to, how can they solve the syndrome of disconnection? When the ego lets itself go, sinks down into the oceanic all-oneness of the beginning, and its peace—the shrinks call this “regression”! They have virtually defined “maturemindedness” as a state of permanent alienation—the I chronically differentiated from the All. What this amounts to is that “the mature mind” is the male mind, rejecting his mother. Within Western culture, whenever the “doors of perception” open ever so little to let us catch a glimpse of the holographic cosmic mind within us—we are in danger of being locked up for psychiatric observation, and given tranquilizers and other “cures.” The established patriarchal institutions all have a vested interest in keeping the individual mind disconnected from the experience of cosmic oneness, because this disconnection is patriarchy. The bulk of patriarchal industries—drugs, alcohol, entertainment media, fashion and cosmetics, pornography, the tourist business, polyester-suited politics, drive-in religious sermons, interstate freeway systems, you name it—exist and profit solely by selling momentary diversions to multitudes of “quietly desperate people,” seeking anesthetic escape from the pain of personal alienation.


What in ancient times was experienced as our “super-consciousness,” within which we perceived the I-Thou of the ego dissolving into the cosmic being of oneness, and whereby we received understanding, wisdom transcending dualism, magic perception, and healing powers—is now wholly submerged within us and termed the “unconscious.” And the psychotherapeutic establishment, including Jungians, portray this “unconscious” as essentially a frightening and threatening realm

—“the dark jungle within,” “the place of orgiastic desires,” “cannibal land,” “the black, hairy forest full of beasts”(!)—i.e., the pagan, the female, the dark. A ring of terror is placed around the unconscious for patriarchal political reasons: to keep us in a permanent state of fear and distrust in regard to our own innermost beings, and vis-à-vis the vast cosmos. Patriarchy manipulates and profits from this chronic state of fear and alienation; and Western religious and social history can be read as one long attempt to repress the cosmic female by keeping this fearful alienation institutionally alive and intact:

Students of mythology find that when the feminine principle is subjected to sustained attack, as it was from the medieval Christian authorities, it often quietly submerges. Under the water (where organic life began) it swims through the subconscious of the dominant male society, occasionally bobbing to the surface to offer a glimpse of the rejected harmony.

Patriarchal politics, religion, and psychotherapy are always there, militant and quick, to tell us that this “rejected harmony” is childish, illusionary, crazy, blasphemous, or unpatriotic.


The holistic point of ancient women’s religion was that the Mother is not one’s personal maternal parent solely, but the entire community of women, the entire living earth, and beyond this the entire surrounding and ongoing cosmic process. One could not be alienated because one is always within this process, as it is always within the self.


In The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality, Mary Jane Sherfey, M.D., described her discovery in 1961 of something called the inductor theory. The inductor theory stated that “All mammalian embryos, male and female, are anatomically female during the early stages of fetal life.” Sherfey wondered why this theory had been buried in the medical literature since 1951, completely ignored by the profession. The men who made this herstory-making discovery simply didn’t want it to be true.

Sherfey pioneered the discussion of the inductor theory; and now, with modifications based on further data, its findings are accepted as facts of mammalian—including human—development. As Stephen Jay Gould describes it, the embryo in its first eight weeks is an “indifferent” creature, with bisexual potential. In the eighth week, if a Y-chromosome-bearing sperm fuses with the egg, the gonads will develop into testes, which secrete androgen, which in turn induces male genitalia to develop. In the absence of androgen, the embryo develops into a female. There is a difference in the development of the internal and external genitalia, however. For the internal genitalia—the fallopian tubes and ovaries, or the sperm-carrying ducts—“the early embryo contains precursors of both sexes.” In the presence or absence of androgen, as one set develops the other degenerates. With the external genitalia, “the different organs of male and female develop along diverging lines from the same precursor.” This means, in effect, that the clitoris and the penis are the same organ, formed from the same tissue. The labia majora and the scrotum are one, indistinguishable in the early embryonic stages; in the presence of androgen “the two lips simply grow longer, fold over and fuse along the midline, forming the scrotal sac.”

Gould concludes: “The female course of development is, in a sense, biologically intrinsic to all mammals. It is the pattern that unfolds in the absence of any hormonal influence. The male route is a modification induced by secretion of androgens from the developing testes.”

The vulnerability of the male newcomer within the female environment is well known. Vaginal secretions are more destructive to the Y-bearing sperm. The mortality rate is higher among neonate and infant males. Within the womb the male fetus, for the first two months, is protected by being virtually indistinguishable from a female. After that, it must produce large amounts of the masculinizing hormone in order to define itself as male, to achieve and to maintain its sexual identity. For all we know the Near Eastern myths upon which our Western mythologies are built, those which portray the young god or hero battling against a female dragon, have some analog here, in utero, where the male fetus wages a kind of chemical war against rebecoming female.

For now, it is enough to say that “maleness” among mammals is not a primary state, but differentiates from the original female biochemistry and anatomy. The original libido of warm-blooded animals is female, and the male—or maleness—is a derivation from this primary female pattern. Why, then, did the medical men, the scientists, take longer to figure out this basic biological fact than it took them to split the atom? And why, once this fact was noted, did they turn around and bury it in professional silence for ten years, until a woman dug it up again? Why indeed.

For about two thousand years of Western history, female sexuality was denied; when it could not be denied it was condemned as evil. The female was seen as divinely designed to be a passive vessel, serving reproductive purposes only. In one not-too-ancient dictionary, “clitoris” was defined as a “rudimentary organ,” while “masculinity” equalled “the Cosmic generative force” . . . ! With Freud, female sexuality was not so much “rediscovered” as pathologized. Freud dismissed the clitoris as an undeveloped masculine organ and defined original libido as male. Clitoral eroticism was reduced to a perverse neurosis. Even after Masters’s and Johnson’s laboratory studies were published in Human Sexual Response in 1966, their findings were not integrated into psychoanalytical theory. In Mary Jane Sherfey’s research during that period, she found not one work of comparative anatomy that described—or even mentioned—the deeper-lying clitoral structures; yet every other structure of the human body was described in living detail. Even today, with our relative sophistication of 1987, we are frequently whistled at by magazine headlines that promise breathless articles announcing the discovery of a new “spot”—a Gspot, an X-spot—located within the vagina. Within all these new “spots” exists the old wistful desire to deny the existence of the clitoris as a trigger-organ of female orgasm.

Why? There is the generalized, traditional fear of female sexuality. Further, there is discomfort with the similarity, with the common origin, of the female clitoris and the male penis. Women are used to hearing the clitoris described as an “undeveloped penis”; men are not used to thinking of the penis as an overdeveloped clitoris. Finally, and most seriously, there is a profound psychological and institutional reluctance to face the repercussions of the fact that the female clitoris is the only organ in the human body whose purpose is exclusively that of erotic stimulation and release. What does this mean? It means that for the human female, alone among all earth’s life-forms, sexuality and reproduction are not inseparable. It is the male penis, carrier of both semen and sexual response, that is simultaneously procreative and erotic. If we wanted to reduce one of the sexes to a purely reproductive function, on the basis of its anatomy (we don’t), it would be the male sex that qualified for such a reduction, not the female. Not the human female.

But these are only biological facts. These are only biological realities. As we know, facts and realities can be, and are, systematically ignored in the service of established ideologies. Throughout the world today virtually all religious, cultural, economic, and political institutions stand, where they were built centuries ago, on the solid foundation of an erroneous concept. A concept that assumes the psychic passivity, the creative inferiority, and the sexual secondariness of women. This enshrined concept states that men exist to create the human world, while women exist to reproduce humans. Period. If we argue that data exists—not solely biological, but archaeological, mythological, anthropological, and historical data—which refutes the universality of this erroneous concept, we are told to shut up; because something called “God” supports the erroneous concept, and that’s all that matters. That’s the final word.


In the world’s oldest creation myths, the female god creates the world out of her own body. The Great Mother everywhere was the active and autonomous creatrix of the world . . . and, unlike the aloof and self-righteous patriarchal gods who only recently usurped her mountain-throne, the ancient Goddess was always there—alive, immanent—within her creation; no ontological scapegoater, she was wholly responsible for both the pain and the good of life.

Source: Great Cosmic Mother Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, The Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor

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