Gylanic Healing and The Future of Humankind: Lessons from the Covid, Climate, and Violence Crises


Part 1

            I doubt I have to convince you that humankind is not doing well. The Covid pandemic continues to kill people, climate change threatens our life-support system, and according to the World Report on Violence and Health published by World Health Organization, each year more than 800,000 people die as a result of homicide and war and an equal number of people die from suicide. Most would agree that Homo sapiens haven’t yet demonstrated that we have enough wisdom to solve the problems we face so our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will survive and thrive.

            I believe gylanic healing is possible and offers the best chance we have to change the destructive path we are presently following. If you haven’t heard of the terms gylanic or gylany, don’t be surprised, few people have. They were coined by system scientist and cultural historian Riane Eisler in her groundbreaking classic, The Chalice & the Blade: Our History, Our Future.

            Here’s what she said:

“One result of re-examining human society from a gender-holistic perspective has been a new theory of cultural evolution. This theory, which I have called Cultural Transformation theory, proposes that underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.”

            “The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy—the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking, rather than ranking, can best be described as the partnership model. In this model—beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female—diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.”

            Eisler goes on to describe these contrasting models:

“For a more precise term than patriarchy to describe a social system ruled by force or the threat of force by men, I propose the term androcracy. Already in some use, the term derives from the Greek root words andros, or “man,” and kratos (as in democratic), or “ruled.”

            “To describe the real alternative to a system based on the ranking of half of humanity over the other, I propose the new term gylany. (The preferred pronunciation for gylany is gi-lan-ee. The g is hard, as in gift. The accent is on the first syllable. The word gylany as a whole has the same syllabic emphasis and rhythm as the word progeny.)”

            Eisler goes on to describe the neologism (a newly coined word or expression).

Gy derives from the Greek root word gyne, or ‘woman.’ An derives from Andros, or ‘man.’ The letter l between the two has a double meaning. In English, it stands for the linking of both halves of humanity, rather than, is in androcracy, their ranking. In Greek, it derives from the verb lyein or lyo, which in turn has a double meaning: to solve or resolve (as in analysis) and to dissolve or set free (as in catalysis). In this sense, the letter l stands for the resolution of our problems through the freeing of both halves of humanity from the stultifying and distorting rigidity of roles imposed by the domination hierarchies inherent in androcratic systems.”

            Eisler concludes a section on “Gylanic society,” with this inspiring vision:

            “For above all, this gylanic world will be a world where the minds of children—both girls and boys—will no longer be fettered. It will be a world where limitation and fear will no longer be systematically taught us through myths about how inevitably evil and perverse we humans are. In this world, children will not be taught epics about men who are honored for being violent or fairy tales about children who are lost in frightful woods where women are malevolent witches.

            “They will be taught new myths, epics, and stories in which human beings are good; men are peaceful; and the power of creativity and love—symbolized by the sacred Chalice, the holy vessel of life—is the governing principle. For in this gylanic world, our drive for justice, equality, and freedom, our thirst for knowledge and spiritual illumination, and our yearning for love and beauty will at last be freed. And after the bloody detour of androcratic history, both women and men will at last find out what being human can mean.”

The Importance of New Words and a New Story for Humanity

            You may wonder why I’m spending so much time on a new word and a new story about how things are put together and how they can change. Can we afford to spend time on words and stories when we are dealing with real problems like a world-wide pandemic, the global climate crisis, and death of millions? The answer is a simple, but emphatic, YES!.

            Our old words and way of looking at the world won’t solve the problems we face today. We need to think outside the box of patriarchy and matriarchy and find a new story that can unite the world, as Riane Eisler says, “beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female.”

            As an evolutionary-trained healer, I’ve often wondered how far back in our evolutionary history we must go to find the first males and females? It was the first question I wanted answered when I began writing my latest book, 12 Rules for Good Men. I was surprised when I discovered the lineage of males and females goes back a billion years.

            According to mathematical cosmologist, Dr. Brian Swimme and historian Dr. Thomas Berry, in their book, The Universe Story, life first evolved on Earth about four billion years ago. Prior to the evolution of sexual reproduction, cells divided into individual sister cells. Swimme and Berry call this living organism Sappho. But one billion years ago, a momentous change occurred. The first male organism, they call him Tristan, and the first female organism, they call her Iseult, were cast into the ancient oceans. Here’s how Swimme and Berry poetically describe this first sexual adventure:

“These special cells were then released by Sappho into the currents of the enveloping ocean. They were cast into the marine adventure, with its traumas of starvation and of predation. Able to nourish themselves but no longer capable of dividing into daughter cells, such primal living beings made their way through life until an almost certain death ended their lineage.”

But Tristan and Iseult possessed great fortitude and were willing to face adversity and danger in search of a potential lover, no matter the odds of failure.

“A slight, an ever so slight, chance existed that a Tristan cell would come upon a corresponding Iseult cell.They would brush against each other, a contact similar to so many trillions of other encounters in their oceanic adventure. But with this one, something new would awaken. Something unsuspected and powerful and intelligent, as if they had drunk a magical elixir, would enter the flow of electricity through each organism.

“Suddenly the very chemistry of their cell membranes would begin to change. Interactions evoked by newly functioning segments of her DNA would restructure the molecular web of Iseult’s skin, so that an act she had never experienced or planned for would begin to take place—Tristan entering her cell wholly.”

This is the first love story and the beginning act to a play that continues to unfold today. It may be a cliché to suggest the world needs love, but it is also achingly clear that It’s true.

I will continue the story in part 2. For now, if you’d like to get regular updates on the work we do, you can subscribe to our newsletter. Its free and you can unsubscribe easily at any time it no longer serves you. To learn more about Riane Eisler’s work, come visit her here.

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