- I offer a personal and prehistoric exploration of the concept of immanence, the principle of a divine force living, remaining, and operating within living creatures, inherent in the human, including the female; a unifying force that connects humans to each other, to nature, and to the earth. I examine the concept in three contexts: First, I share my own awakening to the earthly divine and my re-connection with the life-giving energies of the prehistoric Goddess, with my fellow human beings, and with the earth. Second, I describe the emergence of gender studies in the field of archaeology. Third, I examine a variety of theories that purport to explain the prehistoric shift away from cultures founded on egalitarian, immanent ways of living to the patriarchal, transcendent paradigms that currently dominate Western civilization
In my examination of immanence, I highlight the damage done by hierarchical social structures and philosophical systems which separate humanity from the earth and from each other. However, the primary purpose of this examination is to illuminate the joy and the inherent good in rediscovering more egalitarian social structures and in reconnecting with one's own self, with humanity, and with the earth. The chapters are connected by an underlying theme of transformation from a state of separation and transcendence to one of connection and immanence.
In chapter 1 I describe my personal, feminist transformation and re-engagement
with the world during my journey through graduate school. I share my discovery of the
prehistoric, life-nurturing spirituality of the great Goddess, my inquiry into the nature of gender studies in archaeology, and my connection with the Women Studies community at OSU. In the first half of Chapter 2 I detail the emergence of gender studies in archaeology and draw on various archaeological and feminist sources to describe challenges to many of the assumptions about sexuality, gender roles, reproductive priorities, and social structures of ancient cultures which are contained in traditional (androcentric) archaeology. In the second half of the chapter I present theories, gleaned from a review of archaeological and feminist literature, of the documented worldwide prehistoric shift away from egalitarian, life-giving, earth-centered social and spiritual frameworks toward hierarchical, life-threatening, male-centered social and religious frameworks.
I conclude with observations about the political nature of my personal transformation and give examples of the trend toward reviving immanent social and spiritual practices in modern Western society. Rather than a definitive argument about the cause or causes of humanity's loss of an immanent world view, my thesis is offered as a sharing of my experiences, feelings, observations. and intuitions It is subjective and emotional as well as academic and rational It is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and to offer hope to others who are rediscovering the joy of engagement on this earthly plane.