I swear, the end of a trimester is like giving birth: It’s painful and I have trouble imagining how on earth I am going to to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ – from pregnancy to birth, or from a trimester of learning to a coherent 2500 word essay. I have done it three times before, so I have the knowledge of past success, which helps…but somehow the impossibility always seems uppermost at this stage :). Anyway, I thought I would share with you part of a chapter I am working on about the Sacred Feminine and how I view it as the next phase, as feminism has gradually evolved from the state, to the home and now to the self.
Women (and men) have worked hard over the past 100 years to make sure that women have access to the same opportunities and rights as men, and that these rights are protected in law. This kind of action, although still a work in progress, has been essential for women to feel safe, valued and free in our society. We have seen great changes over this time, first at the level of the state – ability to vote, to work, to be educated, to own property – and then in the home – no-fault divorce, birth control, legal abortion, child support, single mother support and more. However, there is another kind of work that cannot be done by governments, and cannot be enshrined in law. It is a deep healing of the sacred feminine, and for that, we need each woman to embrace her deep feminine self as something powerful and beautiful. We need each woman to know her worth, to be deeply settled in her cyclical, creative self.
The feminine forms half of the male-female synergy here on Earth, a union that has been separated and at war with itself for thousands of years. It is not a case of the feminine being ‘better’ than the masculine. That kind of simplistic dualism is the kind of thinking that has gotten us into the trouble our Earth and her inhabitants are in right now. What we really need is the enlightened and awake feminine working with the enlightened and awake masculine in harmony, acceptance and love to make this planet and our lives the very best they can be. When the sacred feminine and masculine join forces, they unite to bring the world into balance. This is not a reference to marriage, or not in the way that we are used to thinking of it: the unification of the divine feminine and masculine is pointing to an energy that begins within each and every person, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
The idea of the feminine as sacred, powerful and something to be celebrated is both old and new within our culture and indeed the world. Ancient cultures were almost entirely focused on the sacred feminine, particularly mothers. The more children you had, the more powerful you were seen to be as a woman. In those times, fatherhood wasn’t recognised – pregnancy and birth were seen as a mystical blessing upon a woman. These powerful women would become leaders and shamans for the tribe, and as time went on, they were revered as Goddesses. As the nomadic tribes evolved, moving to agriculture, trade, permanent housing, towns and cities, populations increased and competition over land and game became an issue where it had never been before. This opened the way for the more war-like masculine to step forward and for the first time, men took the place of women as leaders in the temples and even in the family. The creator Goddesses became creator Gods and gradually societies became more masculine.
When we look over the past, we see that women ruled for thousands of years, and then men ruled for thousands of years. Now, we are preparing for the third age. Now, we must have both the divine feminine and the divine masculine working together, each honouring and being honoured for the special skills and attributes they bring to the table. There is no time to hold onto fear, guilt, uncleanliness or unworthiness. We are the physical manifestation of the Goddess in all her many forms, there is much work to be done; and now, our work begins from within. Women’s bodies and the power that we have, our sexuality, our feminine desirability, our intuition and creativity have always mystified men. As the power of the divine feminine decreased, what was once seen as sacred became profane. We were taught that menstruation is unclean, that rape is a woman’s fault for being so damn tempting, that contraception is a sin against God, that we are the property of first our father and then our husband, and that leaving the family was the greatest sin any woman could ever commit. We were given two choices: serve our family until death or prostitute ourselves.
Times have changed, certainly in our western cultures, but the echoes of thousands of years of being treated as less than second class citizens, as the silent half, as sinful, unclean and ignorant, has left its shadows upon us. We need to make what was once seen as profane sacred once again. We need to shine the light onto what is dark and shameful. We need to celebrate what was once hidden away. That is our sacred task. This is what we do: we take something like menstruation, and we talk about it. We write poetry, songs and blog posts about it, we make art about it. We teach our daughters about it in a non-shaming, celebratory way. We do that for our sons as well. We honour menstruation with ritual and rest. We may join a local red tent, we may wear something red on the days we bleed, or we may just take a special day of rest or fasting on the first day of bleeding. We make it special. We mark it on the calendar and we look forward to the next time it comes around. Whatever taboo or profane part of womanhood that we come across, whether it is our sexuality, a choice to not be a mother or a wife, abortion, rape, domestic violence or prostitution, we talk about it, write about it, sing about it, make art about it. Art can transform the profane into the sublime.
This is the secret – our bodies are holy. Our body contains all the wonders of the world and more besides. Listen – I know what we’ve been told. We’ve been told that our bodies are ugly, lumpy, dirty, sexy, unpredictable and liable to betray us given a chance. We’ve been told everything but the truth: that our bodies are sacred. That the only way we can access our divine wisdom and eternal self on this planet is through our bodies. We can search all we like outside ourselves for what we need, but sooner or later we must go within. And the only way we can go within is through our body, that sacred doorway to the Divine. What we tend to do is to try and think our way to our Divine Wisdom. My friends, this is not the way. The mind is very useful indeed, but not here. We need to bring our consciousness from our mind to our body; not to the outside, which is where many of us get stuck, but to the inner layer that runs just inside of the skin. Inside of our body is not just blood and guts. The energy field that is outside of our body (our aura) is also inside of our body. When we become mindful of the energy field that enlivens our inner body, that runs a constant current of being and aliveness, we not only quieten our minds but we come into contact with that sacred, eternal part of ourselves.
Our body carries all of this sacred aliveness around inside of itself, as well as our miraculously beating heart and busy, busy body systems that perform miracles with every breath. How could it be anything but sacred? We need to drop these false concepts of our bodies and reconnect, but this time in a sacred, loving way.
- Pay attention to your body’s sacred cycles and the choices that arise from them. Honour them, appreciate them, talk about them.
- Move your body in the way that you like to move. Dance, walk, swim, run, do yoga, tai chi or pilates. Climb, ride, play sport…do whatever it is that makes you feel good. Bodies are made to be moved.
- Connect with your inner body. Use the breath, use your meditation practice, touch base with yourself while you’re waiting in line or in traffic. Soon, it will be second nature, and you will be able to contact that field of aliveness whenever and wherever you like.Don’t just keep your meditation practice for your mat. Take it out into the world.
- Be mindful of the food and other substances that you put into your body. Your body will tell you exactly what it wants to be fed and what it doesn’t. If you haven’t gotten to that state of awareness yet, then use what you already know about food and nutrition to feed yourself properly.
- A wonderful way of honouring your body is to look after the outside of it. Wear clothes that make you feel good, look after your skin, hair, teeth and nails. All of that makes a difference to how you feel inside.
- Pay attention to what your body tells you. Rest when you need to rest, move when you need to move. Flow with the cycles of your body, the seasons and the energetic cycles that surround us. Believe me, everything will still get done when you ebb and flow with the seasons and the Earth.