The Sexes

By Elsie Christensen

Among the ancient peoples who lived in hunting, fishing and gathering societies, the idea of a god-force immanent in Nature did not give rise to any strong matriarchal or patriarchal concepts; a commonly accepted equality of the sexes prevailed without either claiming any special rights or privileges; each member of the clan performed the tasks the individual seemed naturally best equipped for.

When hunting became more pronounced, the importance of the male hunter became more obvious; further, when the group learned agriculture and settled in a certain territory giving up the previous nomadic life style, the women were often assigned the field work and the males became the protectors of the clan, for what was the sense in tending field and flock, if land was open to predators, whether on two legs or four?

However, the male importance was countered with the fact that it was the woman who brought forth children; it still took a long time before primitive peoples realized the male input in these events. The female was thus important in her role of providing the tribe with the next generation without which the group could not sustain its continued existence.

Thus the balance between male and female dominance was maintained in the overall picture. The spiritual concepts were usually based on an Earth Mother and a Sky Father, each intuitively accepted as necessary to life as it was known; the Mother bringing forth her fruits, providing food for man and beast, and the Father generating warmth and light from the celestial bodies, furnishing the rain without which plants and other lifeforms could not exist.

This was a development that formed the basis of most Nature religions, each variation adapted to the evolutionary stage and intellectual development of the tribe. The concepts stayed close to Nature and the seasonal events, although both matriarchal and patriarchal societies eventually arose. If we look at Aryan societies as they developed centuries ago we see the same basic attitude in the relationship between the sexes; each had a role to play and there was no concept of superiority of one over the other. Women enjoyed membership in the community; they had rights equal to those of men; they could own land, choose a partner in marriage, demand divorce and often took up weapons in defense of their property or the tribal territory against enemy attacks.

All this changed wherever the Christian religion took roots; in all Christian countries women became second class citizens, were looked upon as chattel and under the command of the man. The bible makes this clear; after Yahweh had created woman out of Adam’s rib, Gen. 2:23 says: “And Adam said, “This is how bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” In the English language this is still obvious as the word ‘woman’ originally means ‘wifman’ or ‘wifeman’, the wife being an adjunct to the man.

Norse mythology gives ample evidence of the difference to the Judao-Christian outlook. In the legend telling how Wotan, Vili and Ve created the first man and woman the symbolism is plain. The three gods chose two tree trunks for their creation; to these they gave motion and senses, a healthy complexion, speech and thought, the power to love and work. Trees, being a vital part of Nature, have always symbolized long life and permanence. Two different trees were chosen to show that man and woman are different, but both were strong hardwood trees to emphasize the equality of the two, none ‘better’ than the other and with the same rights and responsibilities.

Christian society is male dominated; the triune god is reffered to as ‘He’; the apostles are males, the archangles are males. The Catholic church has its Mary cult but the only other woman usually connected with Jesus is a prostitute. The church teaches that a menstruating woman is unclean; at one time it was even debated if women could be considered human beings. Not until 1920 did women in the U.S. obtain voting rights. Unfortunately, sixty years later this right may not make much difference, but it still indicates the position of women in Western society.

Contrast this to the celebrations of Erda as the Earth Mother and Frigga as the Mother of the gods. Freyja is the beloved fretility goddess as well as the goddess of love and beauty. Significant is also that she receives half of the warriors slain on the battlefield. (The other half goes to Wotan in Valhalla.)

Since outsiders are only familiar with the Viking raids, Ragnarok and Valhalla, Wotanism has been seen as a warrior religion and it is; Wotanists fight for the preservation and promotion of their ancient culture; but it is a whole lot more. It should not be overlooked that the goddesses play an important role in the mythology; besides those mentioned, there are Iduna, Sif and Nanna, to mention a few more who are celebrated at our yearly festivals. Neither should it be forgotten that in pre-Christian times women often took up arms and fought valiantly and furiously to protect their homes, just as the pioneer women of this country certainly were able to handle a rifle and didn’t hesitate to use it if necessary.

This does not mean that Wotanists should fall into the ditch and support ‘feminism’, in the way this term is commonly used; we don’t want a matriarchal society which would be no better than one ruled by men. A natural balance is the ideal. Neither do we agree with Wicca with its strong adoration of the goddess, only giving the male the role of consort; this, too, seems to create an imbalance that is unhealthy. Men and women should not be seen as opposites in the sense of competitors, but rather as members of the community with equal responsibilities for the future of the folk.


From the periodical “The Odinist” by Elsie Christensen 1988 Issue #117, via Ron McVan

Source Article from http://www.renegadetribune.com/the-sexes/

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