A legend in his own time, Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was mythology and comparative religions professor at Sarah Lawrence College if it was an all female school for privileged young ladies. The handsome, charismatic Campbell had his pupils swooning in the aisles until he eventually married one.
An enthusiastic admirer of Joseph Campbell, George Lucas used Campbell’s book, “The Hero’s Journey” as an immediate reference to the creation of “Star Wars.” The two became close friends and admirers of each other’s work. Television journalist Bill Moyers’ mythical PBS documentary “The Power of Myth,” is a series of interviews with Joseph Campbell at Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch.
In these interviews Campbell encourages his audience to follow their bliss, to discover what excites them, and to ensure the foundation for their personal journeys. In Campbell’s, “Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine,” he traces the evolution of the female from one Great Goddess to many, from Neolithic Old Europe into the Renaissance. In shedding new light on ancient topics, he shows how the female divine symbolizes the quintessential energies of inspiration and transformation.
In Greek mythology Aphrodite is familiar to us all. Her Roman equivalent is Venus. In history, Queen Hatshepsut was the first female Pharaoh of Egypt. After falling in love with the wrong man (Mark Antony), Cleopatra became the last Pharaoh when her armies fell to the superior forces of Rome. Another notable African Goddess is the biblical Queen of Sheba. Legend tells us her iconic visit to King Solomon caused the birth of the initial and long line of Ethiopian kings, culminating with Haile Selassie.
While today’s British monarchy are rulers in name only, Elizabeth I, “The Virgin Queen” was the daughter of Henry VIII and the most powerful woman of her day. Though she had many fans, Elizabeth I broke new ground with self-portrayals that glorified her presumed virginity as the source of electricity, and set her apart from the traditional subservience of woman to man. From Europe from the west to Africa and Asia, few girls have held their countries’ highest offices. Of 178 current heads of state worldwide, only 18 are women.
No shrinking violets, Golda Meir was the first female Prime Minister of Israel; Indira Gandhi was first female Prime Minister of India. In Myanmar (Burma) after 15 years of passive immunity under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi became Leader of the National League for Democracy. Before her assassination, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to direct a muslim nation in modern history. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became the first elected female Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Theresa May currently holds that office. A moderate conservative, Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and one of the architects of the European Union. The assumption is that production occurs between the masculine and feminine. The self (masculine) is required to produce the secure and safe space for the heart (female ) to birth, nurture and increase the creation. The keeper of the fire is that nurturing female presence which enables the production to grow.
Accordingly, unless both functions are recognized and the female is permitted to guide the procedure, world development will continue to be retarded. That doesn’t mean it won’t be successful. It only means the world will be less than it’s capable of becoming. As our European cousins frequently remind us, America is the 240-year-old upstart. Yet while we continue to live under the corrupting influence of money in politics and its poisonous effects on countless the first female in American history is running for president.
Candidates may not have all the virtues we want in a commander-in-chief. None have nor ever will. Many presidential icons have come under fire in the Left and Right for their reputed mistakes and peccadillos. As a nation, we are still here. From the solar deities of ancient Egypt into Shintoism and Norse goddesses, mythological bad-ass girls still capture our imagination. Ever see a Wagnerian Opera? In our own time, a feminine/masculine Hillary Clinton continues to bear the scars of battle and she is still here. But as Joseph Campbell reminds us, the female side of power in government and industry remains absent in 21st century America. It must prevail if we want to advance to higher standards of consciousness as a nation.
According to the current 2016 Fortune 500 list, women now hold a meager 4.2percent of CEO positions in America’s 500 largest companies. The Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by only 35 states, three states short of the 38 needed to place it to the Constitution. Higher standards of consciousness means equal pay, free higher education for our children, affordable health care for all citizens, and the discerning use of power to conquer the greatest threat to democracy and peace in our time-ISIS and its inevitable progeny. The formula is equivalent portions masculine and feminine, and a Supreme Court that maintains the equilibrium of justice for all.