An insightful commenter on our page observed that there’s a frequent perception out there that in a theological sense, “the feminine is chaos because the feminine represents nature and nature is chaotic” (and then went on to observe that this seemed rather curious, given the regularity and order which characterizes much of nature if one knows how to look – as attested, for example, via the Greek Horae, etc.).
We have occasionally encountered a similar canard. And it is something which does militate some measure of analysis and redressing.
I suspect that a lot of the time when the sorts of people pushing that line say “Chaotic” … what they in fact mean is “not under my control / able to be easily controlled by me”.
Now, this is interesting to us – because it makes an axiomatic presumption that the person doing the controlling .. is doing so in a way congruent with Cosmic Order. That they are, themselves, a walking embodiment of such who can do no wrong.
They must do – because how else does one explain an attitude of presuming that one’s own judgement and vision is so far and away superior to that of the immeasurably vast sphere of ‘nature’ or ‘environment’ as to seek to place it under the singular dominion of an individual human’s will.
And yet – as applies this core presumption … a cursory examination of how quite an array of humans tend to wield power – particularly over the environment – should appear to suggest that this is decidedly not the case.
And, more to the point, that we as both a species and as individuals often seem to have quite the eminent capacity for seriously disrupting subtly Orderly complex systems through caprice and personal wants. Which tend to produce deleteriously dire consequences for not only the ‘natural environment’ – but also for the human environment and its inhabitants as part and parcel for same.
Now, of course, it’s not ever human nor human group or organization or community who either do this, or think like this.
It is most certainly possible to exercise a ‘wise stewardship’ pertaining to the environment, which entails some direction and some control (the Te Reo / Te Ao Maori concept of ‘Kaitiakatanga’ is quite pertinent here) , and to make positive and productive use of the natural world and our place within it … without falling into this trap of therefore presuming that we are above said natural world, and simultaneously reducing all of its own intrinsic and deeply-seated expressions of Order down to ‘Chaos’ simply because we can’t be bothered to understand nor meaningfully engage with same.
In other words … while I do not believe that humans are intrinsically ‘Chaotic’ (in the cosmological sense) … I do tend to think that desires for power and dominance over systems, rather than viewing one’s self as being effectively part of said system (and, one presupposes, to at least a certain extent, under its … Aegis .. we might say, its ‘control’), are frequently correlate with somebody who’s of such a nature.
‘Demonic’, we might even imply (with all which that entails as to what then tends to ensue … ) .
And who will avoid confronting this portionate component of themselves through loudly repeating that they are Orderly (yeah, sure – their ‘order’), and therefore that it’s everything Else that’s somehow ‘disorderly’, and on an elemental level, anti-Order, ‘Chaotic’, ‘Corrupt[ing]’, you get the idea.
Pride, as somebody noted, is that most foundational of sins precisely because it precludes the perspective that we might be doing something wrong in the first place.
And speaking of which – I do not mean to suggest that it is axiomatically inherent in Christianity to view the natural world as something to be subjugated and suborned.
Certainly, there are some of a Christian bent who do go down that path – whether invoking John Locke or some much more recent commentary to endeavour to justify such a thing. However, I have also had occasion to encounter other Christians who have a much more conscientious view – emphasizing that ‘stewardship’ element as the essential quality to govern the position of man in relation to nature.
I also do not think that it is necessarily inherent in non-Christian – or ‘pagan’, ‘heathen’, whatever – world-views to be the opposite, either.
After all, an array of this most peculiar insistence about ‘Female Divinity Must Be Chaotic, Because Nature’ would seem to have come from persons either within or at least adjacent to exactly that milieu.
However, I do most definitely think there is good scope within an array of religious perspectives to have such a positive perspective as is capable of recognizing that Order does not end where human hands are no longer in vice-like grip … yet rather continues as essence and permeation for quite the broad fabric of the world around us – and which we also just so happen to inhabit as well.
And, in that regard, if one has good metaphysical reasoning to positively engage with the natural world and its elements, so much the better.
An example of this, perhaps, would be provided via the relatively recent push to grant legal personhood to certain Rivers (and I think at least one Glacier?) – at first, here in New Zealand … and then more recently over in India.
Now, in both cases – a certain swathe already had the metaphysical perspective that the bodies of water in question were precious, needed to be protected, and were intrinsically linked to the populations of humans which were dependent upon them.
However, it required the deployment of an entirely different kind of metaphysics – that of the law and legal entities – to actually give it tangible, forcible effect for everybody else to be mandated to abide by.
In these contexts, regarding the River in question as a Goddess, an Ancestor, most certainly helps to propel such an effort. Yet isn’t necessarily required in order to make at least some modicum of progress with same.
Now personally, of course, lest I be confused here – I tend to view divinities as actually existing, and not merely ‘symbolic’ expressions of natural forces or other such environmental elements.
The law, in other words, had been merely ‘catching up’ in what it was prepared to countenance as having personhood and all the attendant protections which emanated there from same.
But that is just the thing. It is a case of a human institution – the law – eventually managing, through much pushing and prodding and “If This Goes On…” demonstrating its effective necessity … to ‘catch up’ with that other, deepa kind of Order which had already existed, and even despite some of humanity’s best efforts, shall continue to exist long after we almost certainly do not.
The Natural Order, we might call it.
One which is, per the relevant comparative Indo-European theology , very much Female indeed.
Jai Mata DI !
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