This isn't so much an essay as it is a very long question, so here goes (and please, go easy with me!)
The history of paganism as presented by most pagans is of course a complicated and involved thing, and rightly so, but one thing that I have noticed a great deal with puzzles me somewhat, is the huge emphasis on the matriarchal, and I would say excessively so.
My problem is that I come from a society that was until comparatively recently, and even still today, pagan, and I could not even begin to describe it as matriarchal, (in fact, it is only with the arrival of a predominately patriarchal religious tradition that anything like a female focused faith has come about, but that is a very very general statement, which I am well aware doesn't fully encapture the ultimate reality) and from what I've seen of a few other cultures that still closely adhere to their ancestral religion, I would say the same for them as well.
The paganism that I was brought up with was very firmly patriarchal. Whilst I can see (and indeed, know) that that would not be the same for all pagan traditions, I wonder why so many modern pagans (and I say so many, but really I mean the ones who manage to get themselves published...) seem to portray their religion as a fundamentally matriarchal one. Maybe this is because it is the wiccan population I encounter (apparently, fluffy is the term I should use) more often, but the generalization of such a varied religion confuses me when it comes from a group of people so dedicated to religious truth and freedom.
So why? Is it merely an anti Judaeo-Christian stance? A deliberate/accidental representation of history/religion? I am curious as to your thoughts.