Transition movement

Lietaer’s Shadow Side

The shadow side of the Great Mother archetype

Bernard Lietaer, in a brilliant 1997 article, describes the repression of the Great Mother archetype:

“The Great Mother archetype was very important in the Western world from the dawn of prehistory throughout the pre-Indo-European time periods, as it still is in many traditional cultures today. But this archetype has been violently repressed in the West for at least 5,000 years starting with the Indo-European invasions – reinforced by the anti-Goddess view of Judeo-Christianity, culminating with three centuries of witch hunts – all the way to the Victorian era.

“If there is a repression of an archetype on this scale and for this length of time, the shadows manifest in a powerful way in society. After 5,000 years, people will consider the corresponding shadow behaviors as ‘normal.’

“What are the shadows of the Great Mother archetype? I’m proposing that these shadows are greed and fear of scarcity. …

“Someone who has assimilated the Great Mother archetype trusts in the abundance of the universe. It’s when you lack trust that you want a big bank account. The first guy who accumulated a lot of stuff as protection against future uncertainty automatically had to start defending his pile against everybody else’s envy and needs. If a society is afraid of scarcity, it will actually create an environment in which it manifests well-grounded reasons to live in fear of scarcity.”

After 100-150 years of accumulating our societal “pile” of petroleum-provided consumer goods, our “scarcity” outlook is yet another form of defending that pile. We’re freaked about peak everything because it means we won’t have our SUVs and iPads.

Lietaer points out the abundance that exists within our local communities, when people produce at a grassroots level. His is real, tangible abundance, as in, backyard-harvested pears.

Similarly, Hopkins and his fellow UK founders have infused into the roots of the Transition movement to approach this project of transforming society with a spirit of creativity and fun. When we operate from this boundless creativity, art, and fun, we transcend the fear and embrace the positive side of the archetype.

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