I finally got around to reading this month’s issue of Freethought Today by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and as usual, it was not disappointing. Of all the articles this month it is the one by Barbara Walker titled “A Brief History of Marriage” that caught my eye.
Apparently back in the day it was women who owned everything and held so much power that men could only attain social standing if they were married to the highest ranking woman in their respective societies. They lost that social standing if their wife died or left them:
At the beginning of history, men could claim spiritual and secular authority by association with a representative of the Great Goddess. Early kingships depended on the king’s marriage to his nation’s Mother Earth, in the form of a high priestess or queen. Landowners in pre-Christian Scandinavia were kvaens, “queens,” the same as Saxon cwenes. Scriptures from Babylon and Phoenicia speak of the time when fatherhood was unknown, but kings could rule by means of a hieros gamos, a “sacred marriage” with the Goddess.
The high priest of ancient Rome, the Flamen Dialis, had no power unless he was married to the high priestess, the Flaminia. If she died or divorced him, he lost his office. Similarly in Judaism, a rabbi had to be married to be considered spiritually empowered. In India, even today, it is said that every god must have his Shakti, an emanation of the Great Goddess as a divine muse, because godlike potency is gained only through women: “Women are Life itself.”
At the risk of once again having my feminist card threatened with revocation, I have to say it must have sucked to be a man a few thousand years ago. For me, Walkers article detailing, if only briefly, how marriage used to work puts how marriage has worked here in the west for the last thousand years or so as well as the writings of early Christian leaders into perspective.
Imagine for a moment that every current well known man here in the west could only get and hold their positions via marriage to a woman.
Is it little wonder why early Christian leaders despised marriage and worked to see that the rules that subjugated them were not only made null and void, but that new rules were put into effect that, in effect if not intent, subjugated women to them once it became common amongst Christians?