Invoking Mother Justice


Issues of right and wrong, good and bad, are core concerns of every seeker. Our ideas about how to handle moral issues derive from the psyche’s two primary archetypes: the King and the Queen. The King’s way to keep order, protect citizens and promote the flourishing of the realm is to create hierarchical systems of laws and penalties. The buck stops with the leaders — judges, dictators, presidents, imams, rabbis, priests, generals, CEO’s and gods — at the top of these systems.
Thus far in recorded history the King’s vision has predominated. However, when we look at civilization’s overall progress — from the Code of Hammurabi, the earliest written system of laws created in Mesopotamia in 1790 BCE, to the present — we see that our ideas about justice and morality have evolved dramatically: from ancient codes that self-righteously discriminated against slaves, members of lower social classes, women, minorities, and the poor; through elite monarchies and dictatorships where the leaders have absolute rule; to democracies founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all. Without a doubt we have made progress, but the daily news reminds us how far we fall short of our goals of lawful order and moral virtue.
What is at the heart of our growth toward moral maturity? The complementary vision of our Queen. Despite ignorance and repression, her ethic of shared authority, mercy, compassion, and care has manifested in shining moments throughout history and literature. For instance, in ancient Egypt the Queen’s interpretation of morality as a matter of the heart was considered one of the unalterable laws of life. The goddess Maat tested the weight of each dead person’s heart in one bowl of a sacred balance scale against the lightness of an ostrich feather in the other. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the soul was lost. Christianity was founded on this ethic, as was the legend of King Arthur’s Camelot and Victor Hugo’s fictional masterpiece, Les Miserables.
But no religion, nation, or era has ever been free of the influence of the shadow and never will. The shadow is our unconscious psychological underbelly, and our ignorance of it continually thwarts every effort to purge ourselves of all hardness and heaviness, all uncaring and mean-spiritedness, all selfishness, immorality, prejudice, hatred, and unforgiveness. Despite every fair law and good intention, our individual and cultural shadows will continue their ruthless reigns until we each accept personal responsibility for our moral failings.
Order and virtue rest on individual transformation. Balancing the Queen’s caring, understanding and forgiving with the King’s fairness and justice is key to that transformation. Maat’s scale judges the heart, not the head. She does not evaluate our god-images, ideals, the orthodoxy of our beliefs, the number of rules we know and keep, or whether or not our punishment fits our crime. Her concern is our capacity for compassion, mercy, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness. Moreover, her decisions are not based on her authority or the authority of the wisest leaders. Her decisions are based on internal evidence, and that is something we alone can judge. In Sophia’s ethic, the buck stops with our heart.
What does this mean for you and me? It means that all our hard work and good intentions will never make a lasting difference in the world until we take the first step of healing our own hearts.  If we’re not living with love, we’re still part of the problem.

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0 Responses

  1. A brilliant heart-wrenching hope-inspiring article, Jeanie.
    I despair sometimes that our collective rejection of the sacredness of Nature is reflected in a kind of symbolic matricide, an all-too-often violent repression and subjection of women because they represent the same life-giving and life-sustaining force as wild Nature. it is as though the historic will to dominate Nature in order to carve out civilization requires women be punished for bringing new life into the world–a feat that none of the social institutions of control and authority can duplicate. This self-destructive aspect of civilization, the very worst of a patriarchal worldview that holds life less valuable than power, threatens us all now that every nation is surrounded by enemies without and riddled with enemies within. Orwell simply could not envision a shadow this dark…..
    A Tibetan monk emerged from his remote cave a couple years ago after some 30 years of being closed off from the outside world. After being brought up to speed on the situation in Tibet, he was asked what he thought about the Chinese oppressors. His reply: “They may be able to kill me in this life but not in the next.”
    Things are changing. The excess of negative yang energy (called an Illness) has reached its culmination and the sprouts of new yin energy (called a Medicine) are returning. Individually, as you point out so beautifully, a transformation is underway: ethics are replacing force, compassion is replacing rationalization, goodwill is replacing distrust.
    Love lightens the heart, I believe I hear you saying.
    Love lightens the heart…..
    I love that.
    Thank you for your ongoing contribution to our collective metamorphosis.

    1. Thank you, William. Your comments always add so much and make me feel so good!
      Your idea about how our desecration of Nature is a symbolic matricide is brilliant, and I couldn’t agree more. In The Toltec I Ching you define nature as “the visible half of spirit. The single body of the One Spirit. The living and aware form of the sacred.”
      But the ego, in its heroic struggle to become conscious, elevates the life of the mind over every other form of life and wants desperately to separate itself from everything it considers unconscious. With its emphasis on the mental, left-brained, abstract and distant aspects of mind and spirit, it forgets about the spirit imbedded in feeling, nature and the unconscious self — all of which are associated with the feminine aspects of spirit, i.e. the Great Mother. So yes, repressing Nature, repressing feeling, repressing the unconscious — these are all a symbolic Matricide.
      Like you, I too find hope and heart in the transformation that I see humanity undergoing. From a historical perspective we are most definitely growing more conscious, ethical, and compassionate, although it can be very difficult to recognize this change when the local pendulum of a particular generation temporarily swings in the opposite direction as it has done recently, bringing back shades of the 1950’s McCarthy era. We just need to remember that each swing is always balanced by a compensatory swing in the opposite direction, and trust that the swings of each generation are always a little less extreme than the last.
      I love your summary of my post: Love lightens the heart. Perfect. And a lightened heart enlightens all it touches…..sort of like your heart…

  2. Jeanie,
    Agreed and doubly agreed.
    The ego’s need to individuate lies at the heart of our unease: rather than a separation from the unconscious/nature filled with love and respect, it seems that we have to do so with disdain and sublimated aggression. So like the worst of adolescence…..
    Fortunately, there is a spiritual maturation going on. Globally, it appears. People everywhere seem poised to leap. We just await the signal. Will it be some inner urge, I wonder, like that which propels the monarch butterflies to begin their migration all at once? That is how it seems to me these days…..
    I will miss your blog for a couple weeks—-
    I am going to Sarasota Florida to teach a 4-day workshop, so I look forward to catching up with you when I get back….
    It is all such a joy, isn’t it?

    1. William,
      You’ve put your finger on it. In today’s world, the ego is undoubtedly in a state of adolescence, poised between callous youth and maturing young adulthood. What else can we expect of this newest evolutionary expression than for our egos to be in a constant state of emotional turmoil: hungry for growth, and at the same time, longing to return to our youthful irresponsible innocent state in which Mother takes care of our every need? So like the worst of adolescence…..we reject mother and turn to Father to make the pain go away. Only he doesn’t.
      Perhaps an inner urge is, indeed, what is pushing us all forward into greater consciousness. The Self knows what we need, and whether our ego wills it or not, we are fundamentally at the mercy of the archetype of transformation and wholeness. The butterfly is our destiny, however long it takes and whether we like it or not.
      Please send me an e-mail with the details of your Sarasota workshop. I’d love to attend at least part of it if at all possible.
      Joyfully, Jeanie

    1. I’m glad you stopped by and grateful that you took the time to comment. Letting me know it was helpful to you is a gift to me. Thank you. Jeanie

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