Unraveling Patriarchy: A Photo Journey Through the Spiral

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By Carolyn Treadway

Recorded by Martha O’Hehir

Searching my photo library for a cover image to submit to Deep Times Journal, I found many that to me conveyed some aspect of the theme “Unraveling Patriarchy and Shifting the Paradigm.” As I looked at the selected photos together, they seemed to portray different stages of the Work That Reconnects spiral and offer an invitation to journey through it.

All viewers see every photo through their own lenses. Sometimes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I invite you to take your own unique spiral journey through these photos. What do you see in them? Where do they lead you? What do they awaken in you? How might they inform your own, or our joint, process of shifting from patriarchy and dominance to respect and reverence for all?

Spirit of the Rose 

Spirit of the Rose

The spiral begins with gratitude. Even amidst the darkness of patriarchy there can be a little Light around the edges. Something numinous exists deep within us that can ground us and give energy for the journey. 



Patriarchy is stark and bleak, sapping life out of us as represented by this totally dead tree. There seems to be no way to bring it (or us) back to vibrant life. Even though our pain sometimes overwhelms us, we honor it.

Arising from the Wreck 

Arising from the Wreck

Life under patriarchy wears us out and breaks us down, like this collapsed storm fence in the sand. But somehow, unbelievably, we arise again and again and continue on, as indicated by the footsteps at the top right. 

Reaching Out 

Reaching out

Slowly, yet with new eyes, we learn to see new possibilities, and we want to reach out to them. We find our environment cold, snowy, and unwelcoming. However, we learn to believe that after winter, spring can come. So we persist.

New Life Emerging 

New Life emerging

New life emerges, unfurling ever more fully as we go forth. It is a process that takes time, energy, sun, rain, and the invisible ties of the mycelial collective.

Beyond the Veil 

Beyond the Veil

Eventually, in the brilliant fall colors across the lake, we can even see glimpses of the new world we long to create. But we cannot get there—yet.

Tall barriers are in our way. We will keep dismantling the bars that imprison us, and we will keep going forward. It is an ongoing journey, in process.

All my photos are copyrighted. However, WTR facilitators are welcome to use them for WTR purposes such as in written materials or workshops, as long as I am attributed as the photographer of any image used and the copyright symbol © is used with my name. (© Carolyn Treadway)

Carolyn Treadway is a therapist, pastoral counselor, social worker, and life coach, now retired after more than 60 years of facilitating change and growth in people’s lives.  She “speaks for Earth” however she can—as a climate leader and mentor (trained by Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project) since 2007, anti-nuclear activist, conference planner, workshop facilitator, writer, editor and photographer. She and Molly Brown co-edited Held in Love: Life Stories to Inspire Us Through Times of Change. Since the early-1980s she has been part of the Work That Reconnects. With her husband Roy, she lives in Lacey, Washington. Their three children and four young grandchildren constantly fuel her motivation to preserve our precious Earth. Contact her at [email protected].

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