Archetype of the Actress

actressThis is the third in a series of blogs inspired by artwork titled The 12 Faces of Humanity by Tammo de Jongh (below). The first blog in the series can be found here.

Jongh describes this portrait (left) as an, “Egyptian girl with long pearl earrings and many pearl necklaces around her neck… she has tears in her eyes.” We aren’t told why she’s crying. Perhaps it’s because she feels trapped in a life she doesn’t desire yet cannot escape and must therefore pretend to be someone she’s not.

This interpretation fits the actress archetype: to a varying degree it’s a classic example of Actress (or actor) behavior. It’s also quite normal. At one time or another we all pretend to be more or less than we really are. We don a mask or persona in order to fit in. This archetype in Jungian terms is known as the Conformist – an actress conforms to her role just as an individual conforms to societal expectations.

“Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appall.” ~ Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Jung often sought spiritual guidance by talking to an archetype. His favorite archetype was the Anima – his “female side.” The anima represents those feminine psychological qualities men possess. Its personal unconscious counterpart is the Animus, which represents those masculine psychological qualities women posses.

In the Collective Unconscious, these two archetypes express the ideal experience of men and women living together; at times appealing, at times appalling. In the modern world, however, men are discouraged from experiencing their female side just as women are discouraged from living their male side. In patriarchal cultures and religions, this obviously leads to a devaluation of feminine qualities, which is referred to metaphorically as the Exile of the Divine Feminine. It’s not without a pathology: society becomes forced to live insincerely behind the many masks of mindless conformity.

There are two archetypes in Chrysalis Tarot worth discussing this issue with. The first is Bella Rosa. Her card is titled the Devil in traditional tarot. A brief word about this fear mongering cartoon character. While he may be a legitimate Collective Unconscious archetype, he is not an existential reality. There is no cosmic bogeyman. You certainly can choose to empower him if you like. Credulous millions do. In Chrysalis cosmology, we simply ignore him. Chrysalis puts forward archetypes worthy of resonance (invisible energy) while bearing in mind that one of the most powerful obstacles to personal transformation is fear.

devil10As an aside, among Collective Unconscious entities the devil is regarded as a Sociopathic Archetype and represents the darkest, most narcissistic aspects of unawakened humanity.


Bella Rosa is worth talking to because she or he (the archetype is gender-neutral) can help you get in touch with your anima or animus and coax it into yin-yang balance. Bella can also help kick addictions and defeat self-loathing tendencies by unmasking the shadow side of the psyche, thereby elevating it to conscious awareness.

The other Chrysalis archetype worth chatting up as a spiritual exercise is Psyche. This archetype represents the fullest expression of the Divine Feminine who dwells within every man and woman.

observr3The subject of the next installment in this series is The Observer, “A scientist type person with round spectacles pushed up above his brow, mostly bald head with white hair at the sides; his left hand is held up to his chin, he looks thoughtful.” ~ Tammo de Jongh

In Chrysalis Tarot, the role of the Observer or Sage archetype is performed splendidly by the Celtic Owl. By the way, if you’re enjoying this series, please consider sharing it with your Facebook friends.

© Toney Brooks


The Archetype of Self

12-faces-largeNote: This is the second in a series of blogs about Jungian archetypes inspired by artist Tammo de Jongh’s The 12 Faces of Humankind (pictured above). The first blog can be found here along with the location key to the names of all 12 archetypes pictured.

In Jongh’s painting, the archetype of the Fool is the ruddy “laughing man with the wispy beard” in the right side panel. Some may recognize him as King Crimson since this particular artwork was used for one of that rock group’s albums in the 70s.

In Jungian parlance, the Fool is the archetype of Self. In Chrysalis, I chose Merlin to represent this archetype for several reasons. First, although Merlin is often referred to as a magician, he is, in fact, an alchemist. The simple definition of an alchemist is a person able to transform one substance, usually spiritual, into another. Merlin, as you recall, helped transform young Arthur Pendragon into a heroic King. Secondly, we chose Merlin because tarot, again in Jungian parlance, allegorizes the monomythic Hero’s Journey, the overarching theme of Chrysalis Tarot. Your first reading with Chrysalis launches you on a Hero’s Journey of personal transformation.

In tarot, this quest is an alchemical, inward journey leading to enlightenment. It’s also referred to as an awakening or ascension. In Chrysalis, Merlin’s role is to accompany the individual making this journey. Merlin can best be described as that individual’s alter ego or best friend. He is spirit guide, mentor, and guardian.

That said, the archetype of Self, whether idealized as carefree Fool or courageous Hero, is a persona growing comfortable in his or her own skin. Jung called this growth process individuation – the process of becoming whole and wholly individual. The cartoon below explains quite well what this both does and does not mean:


Jung harbored no fondness for groups like the one depicted above because groups, and over-identification with them, stymie individuation and impede spiritual progress. The ego, as we all know, loves to be admired and accepted. It gets along by going along. But the Hero’s Journey requires the difficult unification of opposites and consequently it can be a lonely journey.

For example, the unification of conscious and unconscious; of sun and moon, light and dark, seen and unseen, God and man – of acceptance and rejection – are all struggles characterized by the illusion of separateness. The Hero’s Journey is about reconciling opposites and embracing wholeness (coincidentia oppositorum).  Unity of opposites is the “great work” of alchemy: We are all connected; we are all one.

We often write Self with a capital S. We do this to call attention to undifferentiated ego-self from unified Higher Self, which is a way of expressing unification of personal conscious and unconscious (the shadow) with the Collective Unconscious. The archetypes of the Collective Unconscious actively aid the conscious mind in coming to terms with the totality of Self (Psyche) by loosening the grip of ego.

Coming to terms with the totality of Self is an unpleasant notion for the ego, which desires to be in control. You overcome the struggle with ego simply by being aware of it. Ego and awareness cannot coexist.

“Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head–the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it–that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you are. This is the egoic mind. We call it egoic because there is a sense of self, of I (ego), in every thought – every memory, every interpretation, opinion, viewpoint, reaction, emotion. This is unconsciousness, spiritually speaking.”

~ Eckhart Tolle quoted from A New Earth, Chapter 3 titled, “The Core of Ego.”


The Fool (center left) is flanked by The Actress (center right). The Actress is the subject of our next installment. In Chrysalis Tarot, this important role is performed by La Bella Rosa.

© Toney Brooks

12 Essential Archetypes for Personal Transformation


The painting above by artist Tammo de Jongh (1967) depicts 12 of the most familiar archetypes of human consciousness. In this first blog of a series on archetypes, we’ll concentrate on the Child archetype shown in the upper left hand corner of the right side panel. The child has two butterfly bows in her hair and wears a key hanging from a chain around her neck. There are 6 archetypes on each panel. We’ll read more about the other 11 later in the series.  The Child archetype indeed represents the primary key to unlock personal spiritual transformation.

In Chrysalis, the Child  archetype was named the Divine Child. I did this for several reasons. First, Chrysalis does not believe the key to understanding the Great Mysteries of creation and life requires an authority figure such as a priest who purports to be in possession of all the answers. Religious ideology (even tarot ideology) and dogmatic “correct beliefs” are anathema to Chrysalis for the simple reason that human consciousness is eternally evolving; truth must always be reinterpreted in light of present day scientific and social progress.

michaelangelos-creation-of-adamSecondly, we were all taught, for example, that divinity – God – is wholly other. This disabling belief is symbolized in Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel fresco showing man’s finger (Adam’s) and God’s finger almost, yet never, touching. (This separation only ends in death and only then if you’ve been good, or so the story goes.)


But we no longer live in the 16th century. Chrysalis’ Divine Child is an archetype for today who encourages you to embrace your own divinity and co-creative responsibility. There is no grand puppet master in the sky pulling the strings of 7-billion hapless Earthlings. That is a falsehood.

In Chrysalis, divinity is defined as the singularity that connects everything, including each one of us, to a fundamental field of information that exists throughout the universe. This singularity, that nexus, is not beyond our reach. In fact, it lies at the center of Self, which is the human heart. The center of the universe – divinity – exists within everyone! Your unique singularity is the center of the universe.

This does not imply we live alone without assistance – quite the contrary. The fundamental field of information (Φ) includes archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, gods, goddesses, mythical creatures, angels, faeries, ancestors, and you name it. It is an energetic, complex matrix of self-organizing information systems that’s accessible to us via our intellect and intuition. We constantly exchange information with this omnipresent field whether we’re aware of it or not. To be aware of it is to be enlightened.

Since the foundational principle of Chrysalis Tarot is, “We are all One, interconnected and interdependent,” Chrysalis avoids God-talk assiduously. Chrysalis can be either polytheistic or anti-theistic, depending upon your definition of those words. Frankly, we regard personal gods as a man-made divisive lot, a self-evident fact in today’s world. We tend to take our myths and metaphors far too seriously.

When these mythological gods are monotheistic male deities, the inevitable result is exile of divine feminine truth, oppression of women, conquest of nature, inequality, and numerous other metaphysical imbalances that bear dire physical consequences for humankind. Only personal transformation accompanied by a global paradigm shift can mollify this monotheistic malignancy of separatism.


Above is the key to the image at the top of this blog. It begins with the Child archetype shown here in the upper left hand corner. Please note the Chrysalis archetypes referenced below are approximate syncretisms, i.e. the same frequency but slightly different resonance. All Collective Unconscious archetypes, and there are thousands of them, are malleable, dynamic entities.


1.   Child (Divine Child)
2.   Enchantress (Sorceress Morgan Le Fay)
3.   Fool (Merlin, the archetype of Self)
4.   Actress (Bella Rosa)
5.   Logician (Celtic Owl)
6.   Mother Nature (Gaia)
7.   Observer (Celtic Owl)
8.    Joker (Ravens, trickster archetype)
9.   Warrior (Herne)
10.  Slave (Papa Legba, gatekeeper and servant archetype)
11.   Patriarch (Green Man)
12.   Old Woman (Storyteller)

© Toney Brooks

Tips on Making Wise Choices


We supersized the Two of Stones to make it easier to spot the ethereal spirals between the two boulders. One way to interpret these subtle spirals is as Otherworld energy that informs the bear’s decision whether or not to proceed forward.

Similarly, spiral energy – dynamic energy of change – informs every decision we make. Some of this energy is self-generated local energy and the remainder is nonlocal energy, which is generated outside time and space in the Otherworld. This Phi energy from the Otherworld was the subject of last week’s blog, which you can find here.

How do we discern what Phi energy is saying to us? How does it inform our choices?

Interestingly, one of the best books written on this subject was composed in the 16th century by a Spanish knight turned priest known today as Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatian spirituality has had a profound and guiding influence on my own life and, consequently, on Chrysalis Tarot’s methodology of discernment.

the-weaverFor example, the Seven of Mirror’s keyword is discernment; the Two of Spirals is a card that encourages us to analyze spiraling energy carefully, and Clotho, The Weaver (pictured left), connects you to your destiny through a succession of choices, crossroads, steps and missteps.

  1. The logical first step in making a wise choice is “to weigh the pros and cons in the matter before you.” ~ LWB. Weighing pros and cons and organizing your thoughts represent local energy, but local energy can be like a full or new moon when tides of emotion run high. Weighing pros and cons has the added benefit of calming you down and protecting you from decisions made solely on emotional whim.
  2. The next step is to submit your decision/intention to the Otherworld for confirmation and then meditate upon it as you find time. Answers are often found in mediation. Some people prefer to ritualize the act of submission, although that’s not really necessary.
  3. Confirmation will occur in one or more ways: Consolation (Six of Scrolls); Intuition (Ace of Scrolls) – you’ll know because it “just feels right,” but beware of confirmation bias, which is churned out by the ego; Synchronicity (The Ravens, The Green Man and numerous other cards that evoke synchronicity, which are called “nonlocal correlations” in quantum physics); Revelation – your choice may be unwittingly confirmed by another individual acting as an Otherworld messenger. If communicated wittingly, it’s someone giving advice and should be so regarded. Dreams, Locutions and Infused Knowledge are additional avenues of confirmation. All confirmation produces consolation – feelings of confidence, inner peace and well-being.
  4. If, after a few days, you don’t feel that you’ve received sufficient confirmation, then don’t be reluctant to return to the pro-and-con drawing board for further reflection. Your choice may be correct but the timing isn’t, or your may have overlooked an important consideration and simply need to slow down a bit. Working with the Otherworld usually requires patience and persistence.
  5. Sometimes we second guess our choices even after they’ve been confirmed. Ignatius was quite clear about this: a choice confirmed by consolation, or by another method and accompanied by consolation, can always be trusted. So stick to it, even though you may be going through what Ignatius termed a “time of perturbations.” Perturbations are fear and anxiety fueled by self-doubt. If perturbations persist, you may have blocking issues in need of healing. The Otherworld often will use perturbations to prevent an unwise decision, so never force things.

Simply by opening yourself up to the Otherworld and inviting it to influence your life’s choices guarantees spiritual reward. Furthermore, co-creative cooperation with the Otherworld is probably one of the most effective chakra clearing exercises I know.

Speaking of chakras and choices, the three most important chakras in decision making are #7 Crown Chakra, #4 Heart Chakra and #3 Solar Plexus or Gut Chakra, sometimes referred to as the Second Brain. While it’s important to keep all seven chakras (energy meridians) in healthy yin-yang balance, these three chakras are the primary processing centers of Phi integrated information (previous blog) that propels you toward destiny, so trust your gut.

It’s my personal belief that when we are well grounded and our chakras are clear and balanced, making difficult choices isn’t all that difficult.

lcd_galaxies_615                Image credit: Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine

© Toney Brooks




Phi and Higher Self

haramein Chrysalis calls the fundamental field of integrated information alluded to on the left Phi (Φ). Phi is irreducible; you cannot get behind this ubiquitous field of energy that underpins the geometry of the cosmos and all that is.

Phi is pure consciousness. It is the Akashic Field, the Zero Point, Omega Point, Qi, Prana, life force, Pleroma as well as any of a number of other ageless monikers that point to the same metaphysical reality.

In Chrysalis Tarot, we simply refer to Φ as the Otherworld, although it is very much part of our natural world. The Otherworld transcends our natural world in the psychic and physical sense. Although it is unseen and mysterious, it is not supernatural.

Likewise, nor are archetypes, gods, goddesses and imaginal creatures such as faeries, angels and so on supernatural entities. They themselves are nested fields of “cohered” information within Phi. We can dub these nested energy fields “self-organizing integrated information systems,” each possessing a dynamic, discrete frequency or vibration. Or, to make life more interesting, we usually just anthropomorphize these frequencies and give them attributes, e.g. Papa Legba as a gatekeeper and Ma’at as balance and justice. These proper names are metaphorical memes known as metamemes. We do this so we can more effectively learn about them and they in turn about us. We could say that an archetype’s key attributes are intuited, emergent properties of its information field.

All nested substrates of Phi are also conscious. The cosmos itself is conscious. Everything is conscious, animate or not, a belief known as panpsychism. “The universe is growing in complexity and consciousness,” wrote philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.


Our brains tune to universal frequencies through our crown chakras and unconscious minds, which, unlike individual conscious awareness, operates 24/7. Our minds, when in altered states of consciousness (meditation for example), have access to much of the useful information in Φ. However, private communication, the exchange of information between you and your Higher Self, is sacrosanct. It is firewalled, as it were, and therefore inaccessible to psychics, charlatans and sundry do-gooders. Dialog between you and your Higher Self provides the essence of your own personal mythology.

However, if your unconscious mind, which serves the greater Collective Unconscious, chooses to communicate with someone able to help you know yourself better and grow spiritually, it may do so. This happens frequently and became the impetus for the 16 Troupe characters in Chrysalis. We hold that other people – friends, family and even total strangers – can act, usually unwittingly, like angels (messengers) in disguise. The Troupe archetypes also can represent spirit and animal guides, the subject of a future blog.

Your Higher Self is your destiny – your greatest individuated potential and your calling. You can elect to move either in the direction of destiny and Higher Self or in the opposite direction. That is self-empowered free will. The guideposts we encounter along the way are called synchronicities. They let us know we’re on the right track. Therefore, the better you come to know yourself through spiritual exercises such as tarot, yoga, meditation, reiki, etc., the sharper the image of your Higher Self becomes, thus illuminating your path to personal destiny.

In mathematics, Phi expresses the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio found in the Fibonacci series – 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34, etc. This sequence is expressed geometrically as a spiral, nature’s ubiquitous symbol for creation and transformative energy on all scales, including self-transformation. The Golden Mean is one reason we named a Chrysalis suit Spirals – a suit to aid your quest for destiny by helping you make wise choices.



“[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.”
~  Galileo

  © Toney Brooks


Sixth Sense Technologies of the Ancient World



Healing Power of Energy

I decided to reprise this piece from a few years back for a couple of reasons. First, to remind Chrysalids how important it is to protect their boundaries and personal space. Secondly, because of the scientific advances and understanding made in epigenetics since this article was written. (The link is to a video by author and lecturer Dr. Bruce Lipton.)

People Can Draw Energy From Other People The Same Way Plants Do
by MICHAEL FORRESTER, reprinted from


A biological research team at Bielefeld University has made a groundbreaking discovery showing that plants can draw an alternative source of energy from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bio-energy eventually providing the evidence to show that people draw energy from others in much the same way.

Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse’s biological research team have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants. The research findings were released [in 2012] in the online journal Nature Communications published by the renowned journal Nature.

Flowers need water and light to grow and people are no different. Our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment. “This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions,” said psychologist and energy healer Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee.

Plants engage in the photosynthesis of carbon dioxide, water, and light. In a series of experiments, Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse and his team cultivated the microscopically small green alga species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and observed that when faced with a shortage of energy, these single-cell plants can draw energy from neighboring vegetable cellulose instead. The alga secretes enzymes (so-called cellulose enzymes) that ‘digest’ the cellulose, breaking it down into smaller sugar components. These are then transported into the cells and transformed into a source of energy: the alga can continue to grow. ‘This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism’, says Professor Kruse. ‘That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook. To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants’. Currently, the scientists are studying whether this mechanism can also be found in other types of alga. Preliminary findings indicate that this is the case.

“When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well,” stated Bader-Lee. “The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.”

Bader-Lee suggests that the field of bio-energy is now ever evolving and that studies on the plant and animal world will soon translate and demonstrate what energy metaphysicians have known all along — that humans can heal each other simply through energy transfer just as plants do. “Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That’s why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people,” she concluded.

Here are five energy tools to use to clear your space and prevent energy drains while releasing people’s energy:

Stay centered and grounded. If you are centered within your spiritual self (instead of your analyzer or ego) you will sense right away when something has moved into your space. If you are fully grounded, you can easily release other people’s energy and emotions down your grounding cord with your intention.

Be in a state of non-resistance. What we resists sticks. If you feel uncomfortable around a certain person or in a group, don’t go into resistance as a way to protect yourself as this will only keep foreign energy stuck in your space. Move into a state of non-resistance by imagining that your body is clear and translucent like clear glass or water. This way, if someone throws some invalidation at you, it will pass right through you.

Own your personal aura space. We each have an energetic aura surrounding our body. If we don’t own this personal space we are vulnerable to foreign energy entering it. Become aware of your aura boundaries (about an arms length away from your body all the way around, above and below) as a way to own your personal space.

Give yourself an energy cleanse. The color gold has a high vibration which is useful for clearing away foreign energy. Imagine a gold shower nozzle at the top of your aura (a few feet above your head) and turn it on, allowing clear gold energy to flow through your aura and body space and release down your grounding. You will immediately feel cleansed and refreshed.

Call back your energy. When we have our energy in our own space there is less room for other energy to enter. But as we focus on other people and projects we sometimes spread our energy around. Create an image of a clear gold sun several feet above your head and let it be a magnet, attracting all of your energy back into it (and purifying it in the gold energy). Then bring it down through the top of your aura and into your body space, releasing your energy back into your personal space.

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counselor and is a practicing motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.


Dreamwork and Storyteller

burning man poster

Burning Man poster by Cory and Catska Ench.

“Occasionally something will capture your Dreammaker’s heart and you are given a numinous dream. You awake knowing you have come into contact with the presence of divinity. It’s important when receiving such a dream to take a step in the direction of its prompting, offering physical gratitude or a leap of faith, inviting the symbol to come on stronger. Soon, those numinous moments turn into hours, eventually days and, with enough fidelity to your path, a new life is born.” ~ Dreamwork with Toko-pa.

To read more from Toko-pa, sign up for her free newsletter.

I stumbled upon this powerful image and its accompanying text on Facebook about the same time I answered a question about Storyteller here on the Chrysalis website. (You can see the exchange here.)

In the above poster we see an embryo being transformed through a Third Eye experience by what we could call spiraling liminal energy. That would be the “energy of liminality” experienced in a hypnagogic state such as deep meditation or in a dream. It’s hypnagogic because experience of the numinous or divinity is considered a threshold or liminal experience. In the Chrysalis scheme of things, divinity is synonymous with your own Higher Self (destiny), or your transcendent Divine Child (sacred inner voice).

9 - Storyteller

Regardless of terminology, the point is that such liminal states, whether they be sleeping dreams, waking dreams or dreams experienced during deep meditation, all originate in the same place. In Chrysalis, we call this originating place the Otherworld in order to simplify terms and grant weighty religious fiddle-faddle a wide berth.

The Otherworld is what was once known as the aether before general relativity came along. The Sanskrit word for aether is Akasha. The Otherworld, therefore, can be described as a quantum field or network of interdependent energy (information) possessing an infinite number of nodes and nexuses located throughout the cosmos that are capable of communicating with and inspiring all sentient beings, not through words but through symbols, archetypes, power animals, memories and imagination, etc. (Plus other people!)

That’s why we believe it’s important when using tarot to allow the ego-oriented conscious mind (self with a little s) to wander off and commune in the darkened forest with egoless unconscious intuition, imagination and inspiration (Self). That’s where “numinous moments turn into hours” and consciousness gracefully morphs into Higher Self.


Is gender inequality man-made?

Reprinted from BBC Two.

People have long accepted that political power is man-made rather than god-given. But it’s been different for gender equality. History, religion, science, everything in fact, has seemed to condemn feminism for being against the natural order.

 Are there examples of true gender equality in the history of mankind? And if so, how far do we have to go back?


Catalhöyük – aggressively egalitarian?

It’s hard to get one’s 21st century head around the Catalhöyük settlement, which existed from approximately 7500 – 5700 BC.

The Seated Woman of Catalhöyük (6000 BC)


Its early inhabitants lived at the dawn of agriculture. They had semi-domesticated animals and were learning to sow crops. Not only did women have the same diets as men and inhabit the same physical space, but there were no wider hierarchies in the community.

Professor Ian Hodder explains, ‘there is no evidence of a big ceremonial centre or a chiefly house. We see these houses that look like they could produce more and could become quite dominant but there seems to be a cap that stops them doing it.’

The Mother Goddess

Catalhöyük has a special significance for anyone interested in women’s history. It is the lynch pin in the Mother Goddess argument. According to this theory Stone Age society was matriarchal, peaceful, spiritual and sexually uninhibited. Women were respected for their life-giving powers, and the feminine mysteries were worshipped.

In the 1960s, the swashbuckling archaeologist James Mellaart found at Catalhöyük one of the most powerful representations ever made of female divinity. Known as the ‘Seated Woman of Catalhöyük’, or more popularly the ‘Mother Goddess’, it is a clay figurine of a corpulent woman sitting on a throne, flanked by two large leopards, who appears to be giving birth. As he continued his excavations Mellaart unearthed a treasury of female imagery and figurines.

For Mellaart, and many others, this was the confirmation they sought for the Mother Goddess theory. Catalhöyük was proof that patriarchy was no more ‘natural’ than the pyramids.

When Professor Hodder took over the site, it wasn’t his intention to be controversial. Nevertheless, his findings have been revolutionary. His team dug through 18 levels, covering about 1,200 years of uninterrupted habitation. They found no evidence to support the claim that Catalhöyük was a matriarchy or that female fertility was worshipped over and above that of phallic or animal spiritualism.

But, Hodder insists, the question should never have been posed as an either-or issue. He argues that his team’s discoveries are so much more significant than anything previously imagined. Catalhöyük was a place were true gender equality flourished.

Read more: Dr Amanda Foreman discusses what we can learn from Catalhöyük


When did women’s rights begin to be restricted?


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When did civilisation begin to restrict women’s rights?

In 4,000 BC women had equality with men in Ancient Sumer, now modern-day southern Iraq.

In ancient Sumer – now modern-day southern Iraq – women enjoyed the same privileges as men in both society and commerce. But when the Akkadian King Sargon conquered, and Sumer became a Vassall state, the outlook for women drastically changed. 

The patriarchy promoted by law


When civilisations begin to write down their laws, this is when the patriarchy becomes enshrined. There is a phrase on the Enmetena and Urukagina cones – the earliest known law codes from circa 2400 BC – that says “If a woman speaks out of turn, then her teeth will be smashed by a brick.”

It was routine for women in ancient Greece to wear the veil
If a woman speaks out of turn, then her teeth will be smashed by a brick.
Enmetena and Urukagina cones (2400 BC)

Later, the Code of Hammurabi (circa 1754 BC) of ancient Mesopotamia proved a mixed blessing for women. The laws recognised the right for women to own property, while also forbidding arbitrary ill-treatment or neglect. In widowhood, wives were allowed to use their husband’s estates for their lifetime.

However, the code was a blow to women’s sexual freedom. Husbands and fathers now owned the sexual reproduction of their wives and daughters. This meant that women could be put to death for adultery and that virginity was now a condition for marriage.

The Veil

Some of the starkest double standards exist within the Assyrian laws from 12th century BC. Husbands could abuse (and even pawn) their wives freely, with the only restriction being they couldn’t kill them without cause. Women in Assyria had no rights and many burdens. If they have an abortion they can be executed, if they commit adultery they can be executed. And if their husband commits a crime, they can be punished in his place.

Within these laws there are the earliest examples of enforcing the veil, long before it was adopted by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Christians and Muslims. However, not all women are required to wear one.

The laws specify that wives, daughters and, indeed, concubines of the upper classes should not go outside uncovered. On the other hand prostitutes were not entitled to wear the veil, and any man seeing a prostitute wear the veil is to arrest her and she will receive ’50 lashes with a bamboo cane’. If a slave-girl is seen to be wearing a veil, she too is to be arrested; in this case her ears will be cut off and the man who arrested her may take her clothes.

Read more: BBC iWonder on what the veil means to different people and throughout history

The Ascent of Woman on BBC Two

Dr Amanda Foreman covers and explores the above topics in episode 1 of Ascent of Woman: ‘Civilisation’ on BBC Two 2 September at 9pm. The episode will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards.

Dr Amanda Foreman

Episode 1 synopsis

In Anatolia, she visits Catalhöyük, one of the world’s earliest settlements, which archaeologists believe held remarkably different notions of gender. From Mesopotamia, she explores the world’s first law codes written to regulate women’s status and behaviour, including the world’s first known veiling law, two millennia before the advent of Islam.

Across Europe and the Near East, she uncovers a group of extraordinary women who created their own routes to power in male-dominated worlds. These include Enheduanna, the world’s first recorded author, the Ukok Ice Maiden, one of the great archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, and Hatshepsut, one of ancient Egypt’s most successful but most maligned ruling queens.

Crucially, she also explores the darker legacy of gender inequality in ancient Greece, whose influential ideas on the inferiority of women have cast a long shadow over women’s lives across the globe to this day. Amanda’s approach aims to profoundly alter the accepted view of civilization once and for all.

Book Review of the Chrysalis Tarot Companion Guide

by author Benebell Wen

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I reviewed the Chrysalis Tarot deck by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra earlier this year and now I’ve got my hands on the incredible companion guidebook. For so long tarot readers have been pushing for a companion book to the Chrysalis Tarot deck and now we’ve got one. This 216-page book by U.S. Games is a must-have for anyone who works predominantly with the Chrysalis.

The creator of the deck Toney Brooks opens the Introduction with a backstory of how the deck was conceived and the grueling yet spiritual process of creating a tarot deck. In his own words:

This companion book to Chrysalis Tarot details a mental and spiritual journey of resonating frequencies. Tarot refers to this journey as the hero’s journey, a catchall phrase that has been a feature of humanity’s stories since the time of Gilgamesh nearly 5,000 years ago. In our own time, the whole of humanity is embarking on an epic journey of self-discovery and a collective re-examination of values and priorities.

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The guidebook is subdivided into two parts. The first part is general, addressing spiritual theory, creation myth, and the interplay between mythology and psychology, and how both are woven into the Chrysalis Tarot. Part One covers Papa Legba, Gaia, Merlin and the Holy Grail, Tarot and Magic, and so much more. Part One was an incredible read for anyone interested in the woo.

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Part One is mostly authored by Toney Brooks, where we’re covering the theoretical premise of tarot reading. He associates the word “magic” with “synchronicity” and defines both as “meaningful coincidences in life that cannot be explained.”

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In Part Two, the illustrator Holly Sierra’s voice comes through in first person when you see the italicized passages. We get to hear from the artist about her perspective when she created the art for Chrysalis. Part Two is a practical guide to reading tarot and more specifically, interpreting the 78 cards of Chrysalis. Here, we also learn that the deck creators do not recommend reading with reversals when using the Chrysalis. The deck is intended to be read with upright cards only.

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Part Two is well-organized and comprehensive. Each card is covered over the span of several well-detailed pages, in both creator and artist’s point of view. You get both. You get the backstory for how each card came to being. You also get the reasoning behind the imagery and symbolism and, for the Majors, the archetypal attributes that had left many confused in previous years. Now all of it is illuminated and explained.

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Those with a contemporary sensibility of New Age spiritualism are going to fall in love with this companion guidebook and find it indispensable when working with the Chrysalis Tarot. Brooks and Sierra have a New Thought new consciousness point of view when it comes to spirituality that is resonant with modern perspectives blending mythology and psychology, following the paths of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. The penetrating perspective of Brooks is balanced out by the soft, whimsical, and poetic art of Sierra. It’s no surprise that the Chrysalis Tarot has been recipient of many tarot awards.

The companion book to Chrysalis that Brooks and Sierra have produced is a well-written documentary of how this deck came to be, of the mythical and psychological basis of tarot, and a final thesis that encourages the belief in magic. Altogether a beautiful book that is sure to please.


FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received the Chrysalis Tarot Companion Guidebook from U.S. Games for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.