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ROME

While I have never been to Rome, there are still many old cobblestone roads I could travel down for this story.

Like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”… and neither was my house. I could tell you a story about what an adventure that was.

Or, “When in Rome do as the Romans do”… I could tell you about that one crazy sexy night in Sint Maarten. On second thought, maybe not.

No, the story I know I need to tell about Rome, is a story I am reluctant to tell. Reluctant because, in light of what’s going on in our country right now, it’s not something I will relish diving into with open wounds.

When I think about Rome, I think about one thing and one thing only: the Vatican, and its thorough subjugation of women over the past several thousand years.

Photo by Johann Kleindl (Klettermaxe)

I grew up in a devoutly Catholic household. Strict adherence to our father who art in heaven was expected from each of my siblings and me.

From a very early age, not much of what I was taught in any of my many Religion classes (I survived thirteen years of Catholic school, from kindergarten through twelfth grade) every rang true for me. I may have been a child, but listening to stories about heaven and hell and limbo and Noah’s Ark, and God being an old white guy in the sky, was enough for me to feel in my bones that I was being lied to.

The more time I spent alone, in nature, the more I knew intuitively that nature was the only thing that deserved my worship. I also knew intuitively that it didn’t matter. I was expected to be a good Catholic girl and do what I was told to do.

Over the years it was ingrained in me that women were essentially powerless and that men controlled everything and rightly so if we are to believe the teachings of the church. But what about before that I wondered – constantly. That was the burning question (no pun intended) I held in my heart during all those years, what came before?

We subscribed to National Geographic, and I would spend hours reading through the stories inside and gazing at photographs of far away much more ancient places, and think to myself, where was “God” then? There was no Jesus, no Moses, no Muhammad, during those roughly two hundred thousand years, that much I knew for sure.

I wouldn’t get my answer until many, many years later, when, after graduating from my Catholic high school, I began the monumental undertaking of educating myself on the matter by reading extraordinarily enlightening books like, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor. To quote the author, Alice Walker – “One of the most important books I’ve ever read.”

It was then I discovered what I think in my cells I already knew to be true. That for all that time society was matriarchal and God was Goddess, and humans worshiped the Great Mother and her body the earth.

That was before thousands of years of anti-evolutionary, life-denying patriarchal cultures rose to power, raping and ravishing and polluting the earth, breaking down its immune system, exhausting the soil, the atmosphere, the plants and the trees and the animals, and exploiting women past our breaking point.

I learned that Rome had started the struggle to be free of nature, that the glory of its city was that it separated its men from the fields and defined them as political animals. Among Rome’s first edicts was the subjugation of women and children to the complete control of the father. Any traces of matriarchal societies were erased (wiped out) with patriarchy rising in its place.

Millennia of women’s work was taken over by men who in turn dominated women with it, controlling grain storage, turning metal work into weapons, and turning women into slaves all the while claiming they created civilization.

With the rise of the church came the rise of even greater male power, with devastating consequences like the rape and murder of millions and millions of mostly women during the Crusades, the Inquisition and the witch hunts, all of which gave the church the ability to seize land (which they did) from the dead women in order to grow their empire. Misogyny, sexual abuse, and the environmental crisis would come later with equally devastating consequences.

It took 1,500 million years for life to become possible on this planet and only about 2,000 years for patriarchy to destroy it.

“Rome is eternal only in the sense that disappearance is eternal – the sun roasted city on an August afternoon, a living testament to the way nothing lasts in the form it was first constructed or understood.” – David Whyte Consolations

I tried very hard to understand the religion I was raised with, but as soon as I was out of the house and on my own, it didn’t last. Almost immediately, I stopped looking to an outside moral authority for the answers and started to trust myself instead. In the process of doing so, I got to know my soul and as a result felt a stronger connection to God/Goddess than I ever had before. A natural spirituality was born and grew within my heart.

All religion is about the mystery of creation, so our true religion can be seen as our original umbilical cord connecting us back to our original universal self. But we’ve been made to forget our own bodies cultural history, while the powers that be deny that it ever existed. But that history is stored in our bodies.

We are all connected by the root to our mother; we are all offshoots from her taproot.

This past week was incredibly painful for me, and for the millions of women (and men) who have had their lives permanently altered by sexual abuse, mostly at the hands of men.

Men who, bolstered by religious dogma, were taught they are inherently more valuable than women. According to the church, women exist solely to reproduce, so it’s no wonder women are feeling so threatened right now. Women who demand access to abortion and contraception and equal pay are seen as a threat to civilization which goes against everything their male God stands for. The church doesn’t invite participation they demand obedience and priests rule by fear; fear of death, fear of nature, and most especially fear of women and their bodily functions which is ironic since every human being is born from a woman.

By teaching people to be afraid of death, they instill a false hope that salvation can only be found in the hereafter, where there will be no suffering or sin, just heavenly bliss as we float around with angels. But we are here to experience it all. That’s kind of the whole point of being human. By repressing all that is instinctual, especially the pleasures of the body, what is repressed gets expressed in many unhealthy and often criminal ways. Fast forward four thousand years to today where we live in a type of hell on earth where some men (including hundreds of priests) believe there’s nothing wrong with raping a woman or a child.

And as we’ve seen this past week, the majority of women are too afraid to come forward when they are sexually assaulted for many valid reasons, not the least of which is that even when they do, it almost always doesn’t matter.

Even when women are in healthy relationships having consensual sex, the Vatican, as well as all other fundamentalist religions, oppose sex without punishment. Premarital sex is a sin. Birth control is a sin. Abortion is a sin. Homosexual sex is a sin, and all sins are like food for the church which it depends on for its very existence. If the whole concept of sin were abolished, organized religions would starve to death.

How dare women (who are the only ones being punished) assume they can have sex and get off scot-free, only the men can do that. But imagine for a moment, a world where a woman is allowed to control her own body, control how many children she will have, like every other female species in nature. A woman being forced to bring a child into this world against her will is the ultimate act of violence against women.

We have a choice: either we live with sexual autonomy or sexual fascism. As I write this, the Violence Against Women Act is set to expire, and we are being told that the old white republican Christian establishment intends to vote against it. Failing to extend it confirms what millions of women fear, that curbing violence against women is not a priority. And confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after all is said and done, would only solidify the fact that women do not matter in our society.

A lot of suffering in the world is preventable but knowing that hasn’t stopped us from repeating this vicious cycle over generations and we can all see where that’s gotten us.

I do not wish to attack anyone’s faith or religion. I understand how vitally important having something to believe in is to any human being. I have seen firsthand how faith is what gets people through their darkest of days.

But if we do not work at the root of the problem that is patriarchy, we only make it worse. The reconstruction of women’s ancient history has revolutionary potential equal to any political movement today, and we need it now more than ever before.

In the words of Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International: “Stronger women build stronger nations.” https://www.womenforwomen.org/get-involved

“In the city of splendor, pomp, power and empire, the spiritual materialism of the Vatican or the Coliseum find their temporary specifics, have their moment and then are gone or will be gone.” – David Whyte Consolations

I wish I could believe that would happen in my lifetime, but I fear this story will go on repeating itself until there is nothing left, not even Rome.

 

NEXT WEEK: RUN AWAY

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

2 Replies

  1. Sharon

    Enjoying your blog, Amy. I love how you expressed yourself in Rome. I get it! You are an incredible woman.

    1. Thanks, Sharon! That one felt particularly cathartic 😉
      Glad to hear you all had a great time in Ireland!

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