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Themis Rising



“Name something invented by a woman! Achievements by the second-rate gender pale in comparison. Virtually everything great in human history was accomplished by men, not women.”


The above is an excerpt from an email sent to Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas, by a man who will remain anonymous. He was outraged by a women-only screening of “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Godot. Adler, who has three daughters, 26, 31, and 33, cleverly responded by warning the man that his email account had been hacked by “an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual.”

The status of the feminine has advanced, but this man’s attitude lives on, something to be contended with as our engagement in national affairs increases. It is accelerating in part due to three major threats to civilization–war, climate change, and artificial intelligence. (If Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are alarmed about the latter, we should be too.)

But why not let the men handle this? The answer is that the great inventions generating these problems emerged from masculine genius that is heavily invested in their continued development. It’s time for a counterbalancing focus on other priorities, and that would come from the feminine.

A further challenge is for the feminine to act very quickly, coherently, and even powerfully to modify the current trajectory of human history. Men have had thousands of years to create the world now at risk. By comparison, the feminine may have a matter of only a few decades to institute the new paradigm of shared dominion that may save it.

How Does the Feminine Differ?

So what do we bring to the table that has been missing? Let me say at the outset that it is dangerous to generalize because each of us has attributes of the opposite sex. However, men are known for qualities like the drive to explore, conquer, and create. The primary characteristics of women, on the other hand, include a special closeness with nature, an orientation toward nurturing, and the ability to cultivate relationships. Among the gifts we share are powerful intellects, but their focus is typically different.

Now let’s consider these characteristics–and the list in both cases could go on and on–in reference to the foremost challenge in America today. There is a great spirit of unrest afoot, and if one examines the issues, there is in common anger over the sense of being treated unfairly, of things being out of balance.  Now what image comes to mind when we speak of balance? Scales. And who do we see holding those scales? A woman.

It was the Greeks, the creators of democracy, who first envisioned a woman holding the scales in her hand. As a result, there must have been a recognition in the male Greek psyche of yet another feminine virtue, that of a regard for fairness.

The figure appeared in many forms of art including sculptures, pottery designs, and even coins; and the beautiful woman with the scales was named Themis. She was a female Titan, a person of great strength and intellect. She was conceived as a goddess of divine law (which was not always just) and order. Not a perfect concept but a beginning.

Themis/Lady Justice/Justitia

Subsequent to the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 B.C., Themis evolved into Justitia or Lady Justice. A sword was added to her image to signify the enforcement of justice. In the 16th century, artists began to add a blindfold to this figure to symbolize her indifference to the influence of power and wealth in carrying out justice.

Lady Justice is a familiar image around American courthouses, and artistic renderings appear worldwide. What she stands for is easily recognized, and it is positive.

Now let’s imagine that in this era of discontent, one last demeaning event or circumstance or an avoidable national tragedy of some kind ignites the collective feminine response of “Enough!” It sounds like a war cry, one the ancient Greeks also imagined coming from the throats of the mythological Amazons. A set of scales in one hand, a sword in the other–now the image has new contemporary meaning.

Time for Truth to Reign

As for the blindfold that was added later, let’s consider that it is no longer appropriate. As I wrote above, it was meant to symbolize blindness to the corrupting influence of power and wealth in meting out justice. However, there are other forces more inimical to justice today. I refer to the ideas that have been imposed by religions, ideologies, and traditions of empowerment that currently rule.

We have all been so inculcated into the resulting belief systems that we do not know what is true, only what we’ve agreed for some reason to believe. In the absence of the blindfold, the feminine can commit to the search for truth, not just what is comfortable, what is traditional, or what works in the moment.

Perhaps the illustrious Greeks who created the story of Themis knew at some level that this shift was inevitable, and so did the Romans who renamed her Justitia. Maybe in the collective unconscious there was the realization that civilization under patriarchy would eventually perish. The alternative would be to liberate the feminine mind from imprisonment in the atrium, so to speak.

And what a great thing that, on the threshold of the Sixth Great Extinction as scientists refer to it, humanity can turn to the feminine as a largely untapped resource in order to secure a second chance–or maybe a last chance. Long ago the route to balance, justice, and survival was mapped out for us in the image of a woman who traveled worldwide. Now it’s time for America to follow her lead.


One Response to “Themis Rising”

  1. judi

    Hello, my friend…I’ve been in and out of town, but thinking of you, and keeping up with your posts, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. Hopefully Lady Justice can lead us out of this mess.
    Apologies for sending a personal msg on your blog, but I’m having some problems with my “devices.” If you can, please send me an email so I can re-capture your address and respond. Thanks…