When I first learned that all of humanity’s mitochondrial DNA today can be traced back to a single woman in Africa named Mitochondrial Eve, a vivid picture popped into my mind. It was an image of a rock-drawing from the Upper Paleolithic of a woman giving birth; the baby human being was floating in rock-space, still attached to the mother by the placenta. Years ago I saw a similar image in a book, but this time it appeared to me as a stick drawing, with a whole line of little stick babies issuing forth from the woman’s body. I think this is who Mitochondrial Eve really is, humanity’s Primal Mother.
It’s unfortunate, but not unpredictable that this black woman in Africa was dubbed Eve. We all know what Biblical Eve is famous for in Christianity, the religion I was raised in. Not only is Eve the Original Sinner, she’s the eternal subjugated helpmate to her man. Somehow the profound and revolutionary idea of woman being the Creatress of Humanity and of Life has been all wrapped up in male-centric religion, a status quo which is reinforced by calling this Original Mother, Eve. It’s like the patriarchal man can only think one way. His way.
I remember when I was a child I saw a picture in a magazine of an airplane pilot who had flown his plane so high he broke into Heaven. What did God look like? Everyone asked him on his return to Earth. Well, She’s Black! He tells them.
What was meant as a joke is a big dose of sexism and racism rolled into one, and you can bet my young impressionable mind sucked it up like a sponge, formulating my worldview and ideas of myself as a female. To the patriarchal mind, the concept of woman (especially a nonwhite woman) being the Creative Force of the Universe (being God) is so foreign, it’s considered laughable!
Human beings are a part of Nature, and because of this Nature speaks a simple language we can intuitively interpret. I believe the image of Mitochondrial Eve birthing the human race reveals a fundamental truth about our human selves; Woman is the Creative Force of the Universe. If this female sexual force were not so powerful and evolutionary, a physically stronger male would never have captured, colonized, dominated and exploited it for five thousand years. At the very least Mitochondrial Eve questions the millennia old myth of man being the sole creative force of the universe, and certainly lays to rest the fundamental Christian tenet that woman came from the body of a man, an antediluvian myth and reversal of truth that caused my young Christian mind as a child a considerable amount of confusion.
When Nature, through Mitochondrial Eve demonstrates that the human female is humanity’s Creative Force, (which it does to me) you’ve got to think maybe (She) is onto something, and is giving us a hint as to what R-evolutionary direction it would be wise to take at this critical time in human life.
It’s been said that the major Mother archetype can be suppressed, but never killed. Eventually She will resurface, probably when Her Earth children need Her the most. Unlike God, She has never left this good earth. She’s down here in the trenches with the rest of us. (She is also in the snow covered peaks and wild rushing rivers, in Redwood groves, wolves, white roses and salamanders. I see Her in mitochondrial DNA.) Today, most human beings have even forgotten Her name, of which She has many. But some people call Her Sophia.