Women’s Wisdom Erased from History

[Leslie Carol Botha: No wonder women struggle in their lives… they are trying to understand their sense of place within a male paradigm.  Most women never even have a sense of their history.  And if we become depressed or anxious or feel like we don’t belong – we are placated and told ‘To take two Valium and go home, honey.”]

The wisdom of women written out of history

A golden age of female achievement, buttressed by an acceptance in the sacred sphere, is now largely unknown.

The Guardian


The female of the species is more deadly than the male, cautioned Rudyard Kipling. Given Kipling’s love of mythology and prehistoric studies, he should perhaps have added “and smarter”. Because of all deities of wisdom across the globe and through known time, the massive majority – 97% – were (or are) female. Mankind, for the vast span of human experience, has worshipped at the shrine not of the god, but the goddess, of wisdom.

Flesh-and-blood women, it seems, have managed to draw strength from this fact. Women were often accepted as the prime educators in their communities, but individuals also exploited the currency of sacred wisdom with surprising results. Religion is an easy target for accusations of repression and misogyny, but achievement in the sacred and therefore socio-political sphere was often an option for women, thanks not to brawn, but to brain.

Take Theodora, the empress of Byzantium – the world’s first monotheist empire – who capitalised on the wisdom she was rightfully allowed to wield. Wisdom had already been memorialised in sensuous, female form in the Old Testament in the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Songs. And Theodora, who started life in the gutter as an erotic dancer, would end up ruling with “wisdom’s lilies” woven through her crown.

Soon after her coronation, Theodora incarnated the biblical understanding of wisdom as the ability to make sound judgments, and she legislated furiously – introducing safehouses for prostitutes, outlawing pimps, and introducing new penalties for rape. The Justinian code – the system of law she developed with Justinian, her husband and co-ruler – underpins much of European law.

Islam too recognised the key role women should play in implementing God’s instruction “to seek knowledge”. Hadiths – sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad – recommended this as an activity for both women and men. Not only did Muslim women frequently found schools, but also one of the first recorded universities in the world – the Qarawiyyin University in Fez – was built in the ninth century by a Muslim Tunisian woman, Fatima al-Fihri.





Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.