In my personal healing journey I’ve started to uncover some interesting things about what I believe at the unconscious level. I’ve realized that childhood limiting scripts were motivating my choices in life and that most of my scripts involved the rejection of my feminine. Most of my actions have been a manifestation of my denial of my feminine side as something ‘weak’, second-rate, something to be ashamed of. In fact, I believed at a very young age that to be female was unsafe and so I spent many years embracing my masculine while hiding my feminine as a way of keeping myself safe from harm and in control of my life. Yeah, I know, it hasn’t worked out very well.
In about 2005, I started to read about pre-historic cultures to try and better understand why feminine principles are not valued in today’s culture here and in other cultures around the world. I’m beginning to realize that it wasn’t always this way. It seems that the almost wholesale rejection of the feminine for over 6,000 years is primarily a projection of a fear of the power and wisdom of the feminine. And this rejection is not solely expressed or practiced by men. Many women also reject the very things we consciously or unconsciously want to be valued for. The power of the feminine, however, is not about power over, but rather power within; empowerment of the individual. I’ve started learning more about Goddess cultures and am so impassioned about this that I feel compelled to share it with others because I believe that the healing of humanity and the earth is dependent on a healthy and sacred union of the feminine and the masculine. But this sacred union is only possible after we learn to re-value the principles of the feminine within women and men equally. Once we honor the Goddess within each and every one of us, then we can bring about the sacred union of the Goddess and the God, and ultimately, the healing of the planet. This sacred union needs to happen within each of us and externally in the world between women and men, men and men, women and women, and I’m including children here as well.
Although women desire to have the same inalienable rights as men, many of us do not value the feminine within ourselves. And so I ask you, if we can’t honor the feminine in our inner world, how can we expect to experience any honoring of the feminine in our outer world? As within; so without. It is absolutely right to expect to be valued for what we have to offer as women; to have the principles of the feminine honored and respected equally to the principles of the masculine. But we, as women, as the physical manifestation of the feminine energy, have to buy into that first. It’s essential that we honor our inner feminine as much as we honor our inner masculine so that we can manifest balance in the world. I think it’s important to state here that I’m not advocating that we replace masculine values with the feminine…that’s just the other end of the scale and, in the long run, still results in an imbalance.
So why would we reject the very thing that we’ve been fighting for? Good question. I was listening to the program, “Ideas,” on CBC Radio 2 a couple of weeks ago and they were covering a grass-roots aboriginal theatre movement in both Canada and Australia. It was heartwarming and empowering to hear the women founders discussing the challenges and successes of their respective groups and how women play a fundamental role in these groups. I found it ironic, however, when one of the women being interviewed recounted a conversation she had had with a man who is passionately involved in the organization and whom she had referred to as a token female. She felt compelled to apologize for referring to him as female; however, his response was that he took it as a compliment. The fact that she felt she had to apologize for comparing him to a female underscored for me the very thing that I am starting to realize within myself; that in our deep unconsciousness many women believe that to be female is to be second rate because we’ve been learning this since the day we were born. If you’re a Christian, you’ve possibly heard or even read the story of Genesis and are told that Eve (woman) is responsible for the downfall of Adam (man) and that she is the creator of original sin. This is a difficult script to rewrite but it’s one that we must reprogram in order to experience our greatness in the world. Just for interest’s sake, Adam has its origin in an ancient word used to describe both ‘menses’ and the earth, both of which nurture and create life – but I digress.
Reprogramming is sometimes easier said than done; however, it is possible. In my own personal healing journey, I’ve started to access feminine qualities that I have rejected for many years. I’ve started to make friends with my nurturing side, my compassionate nature, my ability to look within as a means to see clearly without. I’ve begun to explore authentic movement as a way “to love the skin that I’m in,” and to embrace the body as a manifestation of our spirit. I’ve also started to allow my inner female to feel anger and to express it and be empowered by that energy rather than feel like a bad girl for not being all “sugar and spice.” Probably the most difficult part of the journey for me has been to allow myself to feel and express grief. This part of the journey, thus far, has possibly had the most impact. I've begun to learn that the seemingly bottomless pit of grief is filled not only with the grief I experienced in my life, but never let myself feel or express but also the grief of 'woman kind', experienced over thousands of years of demoralizing, abusing, invalidating...not only women but the planet as a whole...and this grief is deeply embedded in our very DNA.
It feels like I’ve got a long way to go to fully heal this battered relationship but I’ve also started to accept that I don’t have to do it alone. Our patriarchal culture is based on hierarchy and, so, separation. However, in pre-historic societies, in the realm of “herstory,” Goddess-centered societies were communal, based on “kinship” rather than “kingship.” When one individual was in crisis, it was the concern of the community at large and everyone worked together to help that individual for they understood that “all is one.” Matriarchal societies were not based on a structure of hierarchy but on equal respect of women, men, children, animals, and the earth. There was a knowing, passed on by the wisdom of the elders, that we are all connected in this web of life.
I believe that women will be the primary healers of the human race, but before we take on the task of saving the world (yikes!), we need to heal ourselves first. I encourage every woman (and man) to take the time to evaluate their relationship with their inner female. Take some time to write down all of the qualities of the feminine and how they do or don’t show up in your life. Be as honest as you can with yourself regarding how you really perceive these qualities and why. As an example, for many years I rejected crying as I saw it as a sign of weakness. So much so, that I would not allow myself to cry even in the privacy of my own home with only my cats as witness to the event. I have swallowed many tears over the past 41 years and only now have I started to find the courage to cry when I feel like crying.
Dr. Christine Northrup talks about the effects of stuffing emotional responses into the body. She calls this blocked energy “illness in incubation.” Whatever we deny within ourselves, whatever we relegate to the shadows, shows up in our lives somehow; illness within the body or within our social constructs. And so I ask you – what are you hiding in the basement of your unconscious mind? How is that being projected or mirrored in your life and, on a larger scale, in the world around you? Above all, I invite you to embrace the qualities of the feminine within yourself, both the gentle and the fierce.
Before God was a man, God was a woman and the Goddess was honored by all as the giver, sustainer and destroyer of life; the natural cycle of birth-life-death that we see exemplified on this beautiful planet every day. It’s time that the old values of suppression and superiority are transformed into a new world vision that begins within each and every one of us. Once we can honor the feminine within, we can celebrate the sacred marriage between the Goddess and the God and create a future that nurtures and takes action equally.
Recommended Reading: (not an exhaustive list...there are thousands of great books out there!)
- “The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” by Barbara Walker
- “Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World – The New Female Shamanism” by Vicki Noble
- “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey From Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine” by Sue Monk Kidd
- "Waking the Global Heart: Humanity’s Rite of Passage From the Love of Power to The Power of Love” by Anodea Judith
- "The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries Illuminate The Path to Tomorrow” edited by M.J. Ryan
- "When the Drummers Were Women" by Layne Redmond
- "Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself" by Judith Duerk
- "Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The wisdom of grief, fear and despair" by Miriam Greenspan
- "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
- "When God Was a Woman" by Merlin Stone
- "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf
- "The Chalice & The Blade: Our History, Our Future" by Riane Eisler