One is the Sun
email to Patricia Nell Warren
Sat, 21 Feb 1998 

Hi Maggie,

As an additional offering on the Empire thread, I'm sharing a section from the introduction of One Is the Sun." 

One Is the Sun is a historical novel about Earth Thunder, a great woman chief who lived in the mid-1800s in the Northwest, and the learned German family who went in search of such a native woman in order to find knowledge that had been stamped out in Europe by "Christian empire". The introduction gives some basic information about what this family were looking for, and why, that came to me from learned mixed-bloods and tribal people that I interviewed through the 80s. The following discourse is in the words of an old mixed- blood woman who was one of my informants. A humorous note: she refers to the "Skunk People," meaning whites. It's an old tribal term inspired by the freedom with which white frontier men addressed one another as "skunks" or "polecats."

While this excerpt focuses on the problems that women have with Christian empire, I think that the removal of women from power is at the root of the intolerance of homosexuality in the Christian world. 

So often, when a family finds out that a child is gay, it is the mother who always sensed that her kid was gay. Or if the family goes through a time of uproar and intolerance, it is the mother who comes around first and supports the child. Even mothers who have passionately conservative Christian belief can come around to the idea that violence against gay people is wrong, especially when it's directed at young people. To them, the life of one gay child has a value that is equal to the life of a straight child.

Men have the imperial burden of protecting an image of masculinity that includes anti-gay posturing, whereas women don't have that kind of baggage. Because they can be pregnant, and bring life into the world one baby at a time, women have a stronger sense of mercy, and the value of one life, than many men do. Hence the powerful presence of women in anti-war and anti- slavery movements. While I am personally for free choice, I note the powerful presence of women in the anti-abortion movement as well. 

So I think that women, and their power to value and protect life, might be a key element in our attempts to dialogue. 

Love, Patricia


One is the Sun

Excerpt from One is the Sun, by Patricia Nell Warren, published by Ballantine in 1991:

To the human who studies Life deeply, the Circle comes before the Square.  In geometry, only the circle makes it possible to draw a perfect square. If you bisect a circle, and then bisect it again at right angles to find the four cardinal points of the circle, and you connect those four points with lines, you have a square. And the Circle is always female -- a symbol of the Moon- cycle of the woman, of the womb of the woman, that births all humans into Life. Round is also the Earth, who births all Life, and all the countless cycles of that Life. Round is Her orbit about the Sun.  In ancient times, the knowledge that can be extracted from the marriage of Circle with Square -- mathematics, writing, astronomy, medicine, geography and many others -- was taught, and carried through the western world, by the great minds of the round temples.  But in more recent times, Skunk religion and science had brutally severed its understanding of the Square -- which is male -- from the Circle, which is female. In their minds, these people gave a lonely and sterile supremacy to the square. And so, to the believers among the Skunks, Life was symbolized by the square -- whether it was a "square meal" or the "four-square gospel." In the dictionary, the word "square" is now a synonym for goodness, justice, balance, straightforwardness, stable tradition.  It is a paradox that, while most Skunks threw away the Circle from their philosophy, they could not avoid depending on it in their geometry and their engineering. This revealed how split they were, in their minds.  Not surprisingly, Skunk history reveals that a time came when anyone who taught about the goodness of the Circle was persecuted. They were executed in public in the cruelest way, or they were driven underground and silenced. Hideous wars were fought, millions of women killed. When finally the population had been terrorized into square thinking, the round temple-schools -- universities of knowledge about Life -- stood empty and shattered.  The believers among Skunk historians made no attempt to edit this shameful time out of their history books. In fact, they were proud of it.  This strange belief that women are "evil" had appeared in ancient times, all over the world. Is it not strange to hate the very beings who birth all humans into Life? The whole question of why, how, where and when humans began to despise their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters is a huge one. We will not follow this trail in this Journey Song. But in every place that the belief appeared, the wealthy saw the economic profit in using women to educate whole populations into slavery.  No child can be enslaved without the consent of its mother. A mother fighting for her children is the most determined of foes. And a mother who believes that she and her children have no other destiny than slavery will tremblingly teach her babies the very values that the enslaves demand.  So the enslavers hoped that generation after generation of children would file docilely and unquestioningly into their assigned drudgeries. In this way, the pyramid of wealthy empire could be held aloft by slave labor, with a minimum of effort and coercion from the enslavers themselves.  An honest look at the North American native peoples reveals that many of them hated females in the same way as did many Skunks of 1857. The customs and the beliefs of some of our brown-skinned ancestors show the same mix of ignorance and superstition as do the customs and beliefs of our white-skinned ancestors.  However, there was one major difference. The Skunk attitudes were forged, like the iron torture-tools used on the bodies of women, by the hammers of a single great empire and a single powerful religion. This religion enforced every tenet of its belief through the civil government, the schools, the penal code, the military. But in recent centuries, the many swarming native peoples and cultures of North America had never been crowded together within a single enforced four-square mind. Mainly they had all pursued their destinies as independent little circles, or leagues of circles. They warred with one another, but made little attempt to impose beliefs on one another. The Holy Roman Empire had no counterpart in North America.  Consequently there were tribes and bands of North American Indians where the Circle was still honored as the womb that births the Square. There, women held equal power with men in every field, from healing to education. Some of these tribes even had true democratic government, a thing unknown in Europe since ancient times. Temple-schools, in the form of circles of stone, were openly built on the American eqarth, and openly used for education and healing at a time when such a thing was prohibited in Europe. This bloody past touched everything in the Skunk world -- even the surveyor's art. Since all things female were seen as enslaved and owned, the Earth too was seen as owned. The Skunks of 1857 preferred to divide their maps up into squares called sections, that measure one mile by one mile. Each square enclosed six hundred and forty acres, also a square unit of measure. In this way, their mental image of absolute ownership could be seen on paper."

Patricia Nell Warren 

A Thorny Issue: Tolderance and Parental Rights

PNW's intro to Bridges-ACross

Not an easy task: Undoing Religious Empire

Prison Rape and the Spread of AIDS

Choice in Sexual Orientation: The Sword that Cuts Both Ways (re the APA resolution)

The Holidays: Ceremony for Everyone

TheRight to be Spiritual

"And Liberty for All"  in  the South

Patricia Nell Warren's Personal Page


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