This One Life we all participate in expresses itself in a play of opposites, like that of feminine and masculine. We move through and as both of them, whether we are male or female. Unfortunately for the last 6000 the distorted values of the masculine principle have been dominant in our patriarchal culture, whilst the feminine ones have been oppressed. At this time in we as a culture have come to a crisis and are needing and, in some cases, longing to re-dress this imbalance. The turning of this tide is not without resistance and yet it feels unstoppable. It’s taking hold of our lives, as I and many around me can testify. We are experiencing an urgency to value again qualities of the feminine, such as being, creativity, surrender, cyclical nature, sensuality, irrational, intuitive and body-knowing, emotional fluidity and expression.
In my fascination with and love of autobiographical I have come across the model of the hero’s journey as a map of initiatory experiences. And the question arose- What of the heroine’s journey? What is the feminine way of growth and transformation and is it different from the masculine? I am living with this question and letting it show me the way.
In the Sumerian myth of Innana, the heroine makes a journey of descent- going down into the underworld to unite with her “dark sister”. The going down and embracing the shadow seems to be the key to the feminine journey, which is . We are called to re-inhabit our body waist down, to reclaim our sexuality, the primeval forces and powers embedded in our womb and, at the same time, to plunge into the lower regions of our psyche where the raw power awaits in the form of unwanted emotions. Thus the feminine way becomes that of embodiment and love. Radical love, where every aspect of us is seen and welcomed.
I am a woman.
I have been taught that I must look pretty and be nice. I am valued when I display my intelligence and confidence out in the world. I am welcomed in its institutions and as long as I dress appropriately and control myself. I must control my sensitivity and the grief I feel when I experience the abuse of my body’s wisdom and that of the Earth. I must control the rage I feel when I see force of life trampled and distorted in the name of rules. I must sanitize my bloody mess, hide all chaos and decay. Control. I must so that nothing unexpected happens.
on the other hand, I withdraw my power from all the efforts to control and let it flow through my body, I would roar like a lioness. My womb would sprout roots running down my legs, through my and into the ground. I would dance rhythmically on the earth in my knowing of the World, its goodness and the caring nature of it. I would delight in visions of snakes, and roots swirling together to create an intimacy of dark love. Dark love that caresses and spits out in a new form. Erotic slowness, sweet and connected, where there is no wrong, only trust and reverence for this sacred Earth.
When she awakens in me, I get intimate with each of my tender shapes and inner structures. I touch and cares every single experience as sacred. I the cycle of birth, growth and decay. I allow disorientation and bring love to not-pretty. I see beauty indiscriminately and allow failure, again and again. I expand my heart to include that which has not been included, without end. I embrace endless displays of opposites in existence, trust my intuitive, irrational knowing. I say yes and no without justification. I am all and I don’t park anywhere, endlessly meeting each moment as a lover, each energetic quality as an expression of the divine. I change without warning or reason.
I am here, emerging, returning. I have always been here, just underneath the surface. Listen and I will show you the way.
"Birthing our Gifts"
Is there anything more fulfilling than to allow our love to take form, us and be received with appreciation? The place where “our deepest gladness and the world’s hunger meet” as Bill Plotkin put it, or our “”, in Sanskrit, that which we are here to bring, our unique expression of life. Once we have tasted it, there is no forgetting. We are enraptured by the delicious union of the personal and the universal working together in service! Discovering this experience had me hooked and devoted to living as close to it as possible. Ah- but the irony! The path of “birthing our gifts” can be as excruciating as it is ecstatic, and takes a lot of navigation.
How to define our gift? It is often very intimate to us, something we naturally do, things that our friends value us for, our most effortless contributions. Sometimes we discover it by being asked to serve in some way and “the gift” is called out of us. It’s a place where we can find ourselves feeling expansive, energized and supported, and at times-most challenged. Discovering these qualities or activities can be like first falling in love- new, fresh and simple. But we all know that the honeymoon doesn’t last forever. The moment we think we’ve figured it out, that “we’ve got it”, a process of fixation of identity begins and troubles follow. We begin to tighten around the idea of who we think we are: a therapist, a film maker or a dancer; an identity that now needs maintaining and can be used to avoid any internal sense of inadequacy or emptiness. In that state we forget the original joy of letting our love flow. I arrive there regularly in my work, bumping up against the constructs of my own mind that have to die in order for me to reconnect to reality. I have to become “nobody” again, to recover my curiosity and innocence of heart. I don’t have to abandon my skills or experience but I do have to give up a position to prove or defend something.
The ultimate challenge on the creative journey of self-actualization is meeting with our oldest of “friends”- the inner critic. Most of us have some early memories of being “told off”, of receiving a blast of coldness from the one we loved and admired, signalling that we are not OK. That most likely happened when we were happily and simply being ourselves, allowing life to flow through us. It was quite a shock to the system. After receiving this message repeatedly from a few “significant others”, we begun to internalize it, along with the disapproving figure. He or she embodies a conglomeration of all the messages of how we “should” or “should not” be in order to be loved or accepted. The content changes and evolves as we move through stages and circumstances of life but the fundamental brief is the same: we are not OK as we are. The critic believes that it’s doing us a favour, protecting us from outside rejection, by serving it internally first. This character can be seriously threatened by our desire to let life flow through us freely and gets very activated in the process of our coming forward with our precious gifts. The first step in confronting the judge is to recognize that you are “under attack”. It usually happens so quickly and forcefully that we mostly get the effect of it, not the activity, ending up in a pile on the floor before we can catch it. It takes some presence to recognize that you are actually being abused, which gives you a chance to feel the pain of the violation and extend compassion to yourself. What happens in the moment of attack is that all our strength and actual life energy is usurped by the critic and the trick is to get it back. There are several ways of going about it but the recognition of the activity and that “the attacker was never you in the first place” is step one. This is an important and empowering work, very supportive in sharing what we love.
More could be said but for I want to celebrate all of us women with our unique gifts and flavors. They are needed more than ever before. In we ARE the gifts and we can reflect that exquisite truth each other.
"Let her penetrate you"
I recently had a dream in which I’ve met a vagabond who said to me: “I’ve got something for you”. He reached his chest and pulled out a pouch that he opened and from he retrieved another pouch, beautifully decorated. From that he took out yet another little pouch, decorated with shells and opened it. Inside were special stones. He said: “these stones are for the healing of the masculine by the feminine” and he gave me the stones.
This dream inspired me to write this piece.
There is a long tradition of women guides and initiators that led the masculine to his power. I felt the onset of my teenage sexuality and I felt the profound effect it had on my lovers. Not just instinctual fulfillment but a spiritual one. Sadly at the I was driven by my own unmet need for love and validation.
Today I know that my body is a portal to the divine. Primarily for me to access, love and , wisely choose to share or not.
When I am with my beloved I can sense the larger feminine force wanting to guide him and come through, and I am finding my way to bring her.
It is beautiful when a man comes forward and it allows for a woman to surrender, there can be something missing in that movement. His coming forward is decisive and somehow .
He explores her, reaches into her in different ways but does he let her reach into him? Not in a masculine way, that she also can, gloriously, but in a different, feminine way. When she comes forward like that, she brings through... starlight, subtle tingling, shimmering gold penetrating physical reality. She comes forward as .
It is a foreign concept to us that vulnerability can have a penetrating power. Men don’t realize that when the shell around their hearts cracks and they welcome the pain of the little boy inside, it sends little explosions through a women’s vagina. Your presence to your vulnerability literally turns us on.
There is a level of pleasure that comes from stimulation and penetration that has value but doesn’t nourish the soul. The breaking open of the wounded human heart allows divinity to flow through bodies. When you are kissing her, feeling inside her, let her sensitive presence penetrate you. Pause and let her in. As you do that, in love making or in life, she becomes a sensitive compass needle pointing to the north of your true power.
If you can fully feel and be with the chauvinist in you that wants to destroy her and the little boy longing to be held, you will open her feminine depths. Her heart longs for you to acknowledge both of them in so that she can trust you and relax.
The truth opens her, whatever that may be. So let yourself break down and in your potent vulnerability.
"Embracing Lady Death"
I have just returned from a beautiful women’s retreat, where, without planning on it, we kept on returning to the subject of death.
I listened to an older woman share how she related to her own death being apparently near. I heard another’s love-filled story of accompanying her father in a process of conscious dying. I was deeply moved. How is it that our hearts open so wide when we begin to normalize death and yet are we so defended against that in our culture?
Consumerism’s goal is to pursue endless growth, an ever-upward climbing crest of the wave. Yet nature herself shows us that every rise is followed by a fall. The predominant values of culture are those of high energy, never-ending and extroversion. To restore a healthy, feminine-inclusive approach to creativity and business we need to learn to let ourselves experience the other side of the spectrum: shades of withdrawal, and emptiness. What would it take for us to open our hearts to those unwanted phases of life, welcome them ho and receive their gifts?
For me it was a stream of disappointments and things going “wrong” that recently turned my ear to the teachings of Lady D. When I finally stopped resisting, she invited me into a deeper intimacy with life. After giving up the need to achieve or prove anything, she showed me the sweetness of this moment. When I let go of my fixed ideas of how life should be, I received what was real. I sensed her in every transition, every and so close to my body. She showed me that to love is to say YES to loss and that I must learn to tolerate being empty, before I can be filled up. When I invited her in my creative inquiry, she appeared as a toothless, cackling hag and spoke to me in those words:
“I don’t care about your plans to get to the top and stay there. When it’s time to go down, it’s time to go down. I know you don’t like me. Your whole society fears me, runs from me, denies me. But you can’t! I come in when you think it’s all perfectly under control, when you’ve grown so tall, you think you are immune to nature herself.I come as your accidents and cancellations, tornadoes and earthquakes. You think that if you follow the next motivational guru, you can overcome me or transcend me but that is not so. I will not tolerate your intellectual illusions and plastic realities that are not in touch with the pulse of life. No matter how many successful campaigns you run, I will take you down when you forget, that you are not the source of your success. When you don’t want me I am your personal failure. When you listen to me I am your rest, your fermentation and transformation. To receive my precious gifts you must surrender to my terrifying void and give me what is mine to take. If you steal from me you will create nothing. Everything has to come back to me, to return to ground. Taste my medicine. Surrender and I will make you lovely. I will bring you close to the Great Unknown. I will offer you the sweet fruit of the moment.”
With autumn arriving, we will get the opportunity to meet Her in the falling of leaves and darkening of days. We may sense Her close on the dark moon or at the time of our bleed. She will visit us every day in small and big ways and is here right now. As we embrace her, we contribute to a more .