A typical comment of the modern mind upon ‘matriarchy’ is to say that it must only have been patriarchy the other way round, But such is very far from being the case… Femininity has very definite characteristics that are a part of the metaphysical nature of things. To say, for example, that if men are considered the active, forceful, even violent sex under patriarchy, women must have been considered the same way under matriarchy, is founded on a complete misunderstanding of the nature of femininity, both in its metaphysical essence and in its biological reflection on earth.

In a ‘matriarchal’ or we had rather say, a feminine society, women as the leading and most revered sex, are revered precisely for their feminine qualities, which do not change whether in feminine or masculine societies. They are always the ‘passive’ sex in the sense of being the one less oriented to outward activity, and in this, in feminine societies, they are assimilated to the Principle itself, which causes motion without itself moving. This is not to say that women did nothing, either in feminine or patriarchal societies, but that symbolically the qualities of serenity, peace and contemplation are considered superior to dynamic outward activity, Or rather, the latter is said to depend upon and be always subordinate to the former.

This, indeed, is understood even in patriarchal societies, where, for example, in the Hindu Tantrik tradition the male principle (the god or deva) is considered to be the superior and therefore the serene, unmoving principle, while his female counterpart (or shakti) is his outward activity or energy. This is rather curious according to most later patriarchal thinking about the nature of femininity, just as it was to matriarchal thinking. But the reversal was necessary in order to preserve metaphysical truth and patriarchal doctrine at the same time. In Tibet, which remains closer to the original matriarchal tradition (polyandry was until recently practised there), the position is reversed — that is to say, normal — and the serene Deity is female while her shakti or outward energy is male. Similarly, in Tibet, in the case of the complementary principles of Wisdom and Method — representing the Essential or Spiritual principle and the substantial or material respectively —Wisdom is female and Method male.

The Hindu Tantrik tradition notwithstanding, in general patriarchy has not attempted to alter the relative qualities of masculinity and femininity. Rather it has re-valued them in metaphysical terms, associating feminine serenity with the passivity of matter and male activity with the relatively ‘active’ power of the in-forming Spirit or Essence. And, insofar as patriarchy is a legitimate tradition, albeit one belonging purely to the inferior state of the Iron Age, this can be accepted as one of the permissible permutations of the expression of Truth.

Nonetheless, throughout the patriarchal period, the feminine continually shines through in its true glory, despite all ideological opposition. From the great Goddesses of various traditions, who so often overwhelm their appointed Gods in the hearts and souls of the people, to the Blessed Virgin Mary who rapidly adopts the titles of supreme Deity — Seat of Wisdom, Rose of the World, Queen of Heaven.

From The Feminine Universe