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Matriarchal Societies

Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe

Heide Göttner-Abendroth

This book presents the results of Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s pioneering research in the field of modern matriarchal studies, based on a new definition of «matriarchy» as true gender-egalitarian societies. Accordingly, matriarchal societies should not be regarded as mirror images of patriarchal ones, as they have never needed patriarchy’s hierarchical structures of domination. On the contrary, matriarchal patterns are socially egalitarian, economically balanced, and politically based on consensus decisions. They have been created by women and are founded on maternal values. This new perspective on matriarchal societies is developed step by step by the analysis of extant indigenous cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

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Glossary 461

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Agrarian festivals: Matriarchal societies have a complex, interwoven cycle of agrarian festivals that follow the seasonal agricultural cycle. These ceremonies carry the symbolism of eternal renewal in the cycle of life and death of all beings on earth, as well as of all celestial bodies in the sky. Associated with this is a detailed festival calendar. Amazons: Amazons are to be distinguished from the matriarchal women who fought at the side of their men: instead, Amazons were professional warriors who built up societies that did not include men. Amazon realms are a special variant of matriarchal social order, occurring in situations where invaders threatened to destroy matriarchal cultures. Arts: For matriarchal peoples, all artistic expression—dance, song, music, painting, carving, dramatic presentations—serves religion, and should be under- stood as a form of prayer (arts of women). Arts of women: The ancient women’s arts of pottery and weaving are prac- ticed as cycles of symbol-laden rituals. These rituals follow the same seasonal cycle as the agrarian ones do (agrarian festivals), and they also reflect the human life cycle. In general, matriarchal women are the guardians of culture, as they strict- ly conserve and protect the language, script, music, poetry, magic, and religious traditions (education). Glossary 6_Goettner_Abendroth ch 16 thu end_t5 2/28/2012 10:06 AM Page 461 Balanced societies: In spite of women’s authority and centrality in matri- archies, a balance is maintained between female and male spheres of activity. These spheres are not limited to stereotypically fixed...

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