The Maternal Archetype

As soon as my book The Seven Daughters of Eve was published back in 2000 I was immediately astonished by the number of people who wanted to identify their matrilineal ancestor, their own "Daughter of Eve" and, ever since I have wondered what lies behind this curiosity. Nearly twenty years later, I am still struggling to make sense of it. It has something to do with genealogy but it is more than that.

When two people are descended from the same clan mother or "Daughter of Eve" they will inevitably have ancestors who were sisters at one time.The genealogical connection between them has precisely followed through time the bond between mother and child. This is the most important for all of us and the channel for love and nurture which is near universal, even when circumstances contrive to disrupt it.

Over the past couple of years I have invited small groups of people descended from the same "Daughter of Eve" to see what happened when they met up with one another. None had ever met the other participants and yet immediately there was a tangible sense of kinship between them. Over lunch these people enthusiastically compared personal details like their physical features or their likes and dislikes. Without reading too much into these exchanges within such a small sample I am sufficiently encouraged to facilitate links between our customers via the newly refreshed website.   

In a small study in a New Jersey school, I was able to observe the effect that clan membership has on individuals who feel disconnected from the world often because of disruption at home. Once these people could see where they fitted into the overall network of humanity, most reported feeling far less isolated.

One evening a few years ago I was pondering what other explanations there might be for the strong kinship feeling. I happened to be listening to "Every Breath You Take" the 1983 classic by Sting and the Police. I realised what it is that we all have in common. The DNA we use to breathe has come directly from our clan mother over aeons of time. Sometimes I think of her and all the women, my ancestors, who have carried this DNA through hundreds of generations so I too can breathe. I also felt that in a curious sense she lives on and is "watching me" to see what I make of her precious legacy.

Oddly enough, when I tested Sting for a magazine article, I discovered that both he and I are descended from same clan mother, Tara.