The Divine Dance between Intellect and Intuition

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

If you had to imagine who said this, would you guess some new age spiritual guru?  Wayne Dyer?  Marianne Williamson?  Some ancient sage perhaps?  You may be surprised to discover that the author of this quote was none other than Albert Einstein; one of the most celebrated thinkers and scientists of all time!  The ‘forgotten gift’ is the divine feminine gift of intuition.  Like other aspects of the Divine Feminine, this gift was a casualty of the overall denigration of all things feminine at the end of the burning times (see “Who Mugged the Goddess” and "Rediscover the Strength of the Divine Feminine)

In our society, most people, both men and women, tend to rely more heavily on the Divine Masculine gift of intellect versus the Divine Feminine gift of intuition because we have were socialized to value intellect over intuition.  Happily, the gift of intuition is being rediscovered.  Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs are but two examples of people who knew that the secret to success, in life and business, lay in the relationship between their masculine intellect and their feminine intuition.  When your intellect serves your intuition, you become more creative and generate the capacity to live a more powerful, successful and fulfilling life!  

Masculine Intellect and Feminine Intuition

The intellect, or ‘rational mind’ as Einstein called it, resides primarily in the left hemisphere of the brain.  This divine masculine aspect, celebrated and honoured for thousands of years, includes the skills of analysis, reason, logic, deduction and inference.  It uses past information and experience to explain the present and project the future.  We use the power of our intellect to ‘figure things out’.  Our intellectual mind is crucial for us to effectively function on a day-to-day basis.   However, the intellect has limits.  Most notably, it can hamper creativity and, when harnessed by the ego, can keep us small and prevent us from making changes in our lives.

Intuition, being the divine feminine gift, is essentially the opposite.  Intuition is when you know something without having to directly discover or perceive it.  Although this aspect of the Divine Feminine has been associated with women since the dawn of time, men are equally able to tap into and benefit from this gift.  While those who aren’t connected to their intuition commonly view it as merely a ‘lucky guess’, ‘woo-woo’ or ‘freaky’ those of us who have strengthened our intuitive pathways know that the power of our intuition is no coincidence!  Intuition is the essential ingredient for creativity and for evolving our life and humanity – whether that means advancing a scientific idea, creating a new technology or determining the next step in our lives or career.

We live in a ‘soup’ of consciousness.  In the same way that fish don’t perceive the water in which they swim, most of us don’t perceive the consciousness in which we live and breathe.  This consciousness field is intelligent and exists both within and outside of our space/time dimension.  It is an invisible, non-physical, realm that we access through our intuition -- through the right hemisphere of our brain.  Think of it as a portal through which we are in constant communication, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.  Author Lynn McTaggart calls it the ‘field’, futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard calls it the ‘noosphere’, while Carl Jung calls it the ‘collective unconscious’. 

Here is my answer to the question, “What are we doing here?” We are each here to grow and evolve our own consciousness, humanity and the planet.  And the key lies in honouring and harnessing our intuitive capabilities. Our intuition provides us with nudges, hunches, information and inspiration to move us towards ever greater realms of love and connectedness.  Intuition is fuelled by information that is outside of our perception and is therefore beyond the reach of the intellect.  That is the profound gift that intuition brings.

Steve Jobs recognized and honoured his intuition relatively early in life.  In his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University graduates, he told students about his decision to follow his intuition and drop out of college.  This freed him up to follow his heart and take courses that interested him, but were of no practical value.  Or so he thought at the time.  It wasn’t until years later that those seemingly small and insignificant choices, which flowed from following his heart and intuition, would become critical factors in his eventual success at Apple and Pixar.  He went on to suggest that his career path could not have been planned; that it is impossible to connect the dots looking forward, but that it only became clear when looking backwards.  In other words, he suggested the students use the gift of intuition as their guide. 

With the overemphasis on the power of the intellect so prominent in our society, it’s tempting to use it to ‘figure out our lives’ and determine our next step.  Your intellect operates in the realm of the physical, known, time/space continuum so this part of your psyche is, at first, incredulous at the notion that it can’t figure out the ‘best’ path to follow, decision to make or idea to try. But relying on the intellect means that you are making decisions and choices with only a fraction of the information available, which is needlessly limiting.  Inspiration comes from our intuition.  It’s great to have a plan for your life or career, but I would caution against being too attached to your plan.  For if you are too attached, you will surely miss key opportunities along the way. 

The Dance of Intellect and Intuition

When we honour and recognize the power of our intuition and the limits of our intellect, we create the opportunity to manifest beauty, love, and magnificence in our world.  Here’s how it works.  Our intuition gives us inspiration or guidance and we use our intellect to put it into action.  Again, the energy flows back and forth between the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine, and as it does so it creates a most beautiful dance.  This principle applies in all realms of life, from the small, seemingly insignificant issues to the larger questions of life direction, career, and relationship.

As Einstein noted, the gift of intuition has largely been forgotten in our society.   He recognized that much of his success could be attributed to his strong connection with his intuition.  We celebrate and honour the intellect without realizing that achievements and advancements in many fields of endeavour, including science, only happen with the inspiration that comes from intuition.  

Our intuition provides us with nudges, hunches, information and inspiration to move us towards ever greater realms of love and connectedness.
— Susan Cullen

The intellect is clever, but your intuition is wise.  It is wise because it has access to a much greater source of information – information that is outside of our normal awareness.    And it is for this reason that Einstein correctly identified the intellect as the servant.  When your intellect understands and honours the wisdom of your intuition, and operates ins service to your intuition, then your life will grow and flow and you will be able to navigate life’s challenges with grace and ease.  By restoring the gift of intuition to its proper place, we become exponentially more influential in the world and create lives that are more fulfilling and successful.  Here is the final piece of advice that Steve Jobs gave to the Stanford graduates.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Clearly, Steve Jobs also knew the wisdom of listening to his intuition.  I wonder if the ‘i’ in ‘iPod’, ‘iMac’, ‘iPhone’ and other apple products could also represent intuition, since this was clearly a big part of his success.  Too bad we can’t ask him.  Steve, you will be greatly missed!

Stop Searching for Your Life Purpose

Finding your ‘life purpose’ is one of the most talked about concepts in our society today.  Hundreds of magazine articles, blogs, and courses promise to give you the 7 keys, 8 principles or 9 steps to finding your life purpose.  We are told we each have our own unique ‘life purpose’ and our mission is to figure ‘IT’ out and then do ‘IT’.  The implicit and unspoken assumption is that if we are able to find and then ‘do’ our life purpose, then we will live happily ever after making buckets of money.  We will have reached the promised land!

If you’ve fallen for the illusion as I did, imagine for a moment that there is no ‘life purpose’ pot of gold waiting for you.  Take a deep breath and relax into this thought.  What if you were meant to be is exactly where you are right now?  I talk to many people who are dissatisfied with their life because they think they are not ‘doing’ their life purpose. “If only I could figure out what it was, then I could live a fulfilled, happy and abundant life,” they say. Or at least that is the belief. It’s as if the Universe created an elaborate treasure hunt where the treasure is not only elusive but invisible.  How do you know when you’ve found it?

The belief that you have a specific life purpose and that it’s something you need to ‘do’ before you die keeps you in a perpetual state of stress and distraction.  For some, this manifests as fear to move forward.  They ask, “How can I move forward when I don’t know which way to go?  I need to know my life purpose first.”  For others, the search for life purpose manifests as constantly jumping from thing to thing, in the hopes that the next thing will surely be ‘it’.  In both cases, the underlying belief is that where you are now is wrong; that you ought to be somewhere else.  Consequently, you miss the beauty and perfection of your life as it is right now.

Continually searching for your life purpose actually prevents you
from finding fulfillment in your life.

 

Life Purpose:  Truth or Illusion?

Truth and illusion are both present in the concept of “Life Purpose”.  The illusion is that it is something that you can figure out, know or be told and that once you know what ‘it’ is, then you can ‘do it’.  This illusion is anchored in activity or doing and the idea that you have to know before you can do.  This is putting the cart before the horse and one area where Divine Masculine gifts of linear, rational thinking simply don’t work.

Many years ago, I was unhappy in my job and was desperate to find my life purpose.  I fell for the illusion hook, line and sinker.  I was sure that my job as an economist doing research at a non-profit was not my life purpose.  I reasoned that if it was, then surely I would feel happy and satisfied as I went to work each day.  For years I searched, meditated, begged, prayed and was otherwise obsessed about finding my life purpose.  After years of driving myself crazy I finally surrendered to the fact that maybe I didn’t have a specific purpose. Ironically, it was when I let go of the idea that I could figure out my life purpose, that I began to understand the dynamics of how it works.

In truth, life purpose is a journey, not a destination.  It’s a process, not an outcome. It’s elusive and constantly shifting; like the end of a rainbow, you can never reach it. I think we confuse ‘life purpose’ with ‘outcome’. Your life purpose is the seed that exists within you; it contains the potential for a blossoming flower. Living your life purpose requires you to be more fully who you are, to raise your awareness, expand your consciousness, and live in greater states of love. Whether you recognize it or not, it unfolds through your life. In this sense, we all have the same life purpose, but each person’s expression of it, or flower, will be different.

Life purpose, then, is a constant process of self discovery that can only be understood in hindsight. At every point in time, the outcome results from the actions or doing that flow from your being.  I don’t think that outcomes are pre-determined; for it is our choices and our will that determines the extent to which we each allow our flower to blossom.  Oprah inspired millions worldwide to live a better, more meaningful life.  This is the outcome that manifested as a result of her being fully who she is.

Consider Eckhart Tolle.  Most people would agree that he is someone who appears to be ‘living’ and ‘doing’ his life purpose.  So how did it happen?  Did he read a blog or take a class or follow the 9 keys to finding his life purpose and discover that he needed to speak and write about the invisible realms and the impossible to describe concept of ‘Now’?  No.  It was through the unfolding of his journey that he did these things. He had a pivotal experience which led him to first of all see, and over time, understand, the invisible realms, living in the Now, the ego, the pain body, etc.  He then began to tell people about his discovery and eventually felt called to write a book.  The journey, the doing, the outcome, unfolded naturally one step at a time.

Here is one of the key principles then:  our ‘life purpose’ is born of our experience.  That means we need to have an experience first!  We need to follow the gumdrops through the forest.  As the poet David Whyte said, “You need to make the path by walking.”  It’s not that our life purpose has been cruelly hidden from us.  Rather, the truth is that our life purpose is something that must unfold through living. Our flower needs nourishment, care and attention to grow and blossom.

The thousands of things you do each day have a huge impact on the world. Everything you do, every thought you think ripples out like a stone thrown into a pond.  Dr. Joan King says “You are sculpting who you are with every decision you make”.  If you believe that your life purpose is out there for you to figure out, then part of your precious energy and attention is focussed on the future; you are distracted from fully living in the present. The key to finding your life purpose, then, is to tap into the Divine Feminine gifts of openness, receiving and intention.

Let go of the illusion and turn your attention inward. Begin to follow your own inner guidance. You are an alchemical mix of your gifts, skills and experiences and you are utterly unique!  There is no one like you – never has been and never will be.   Bring all of your presence, energy and attention to who you are being now.  Your life purpose is to BE fully who you are. And here is the magic part, the more you focus on who you are being, the more likely you are to discover a meaningful way to bring it to the world; that is, the doing.  Being is the substance and doing is merely the form it takes. Live each moment as if it IS your life purpose, because it is. 

Now, go and blossom!

Mistakes: Real or Illusion?

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“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change." Wayne Dyer

The dictionary defines ‘mistake’ as “an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong.” Nobody wants to make a mistake; nobody wants to be ‘wrong’.  Indeed many of my clients want to move forward in their life in some way and are paralyzed by the idea that they might make a mistake or the wrong choice.  Here’s something to consider:  what if it’s impossible to make a mistake; that the idea of ‘mistake’ is merely an illusion?

We’ve all heard the story of Thomas Edison ‘failing’ 10,000 times on the way to inventing the lightbulb.  Did he make 10,000 mistakes or was success a 10,000 step process?  As in life, your perspective determines whether you view Edison as failing or succeeding. If Edison perceived the process as a series of mistakes, perhaps he would have been disheartened and given up long before finding the filament that worked.

Life is the same.  Thinking that you made a mistake leads to pain, suffering, guilt and shame.  It keeps you stuck and focussed on the past.  However, a mere shift in perspective changes everything.  Let go of the idea that you could make a ‘mistake’ and instead view each outcome as feedback.  Life is all about learning and evolving your being towards greater states of love and consciousness.  Be clear about what I’m saying.  I’m not giving you license to behave in any way you want and feel fine about it.  Every thought, word or action has a consequence -- an experience -- and every experience generates feedback to help you learn and grow.  From this perspective, mistakes are an illusion.

When people talk about making a mistake, what they usually mean is that they didn’t like the result or outcome of their choice, decision or action.  I consider this to be very different from making a mistake.  Making a mistake implies that you did something ‘wrong’; that you should have done something different or made a different choice.  But it’s impossible since the choice was made in the past; you can’t go back.  Thinking you made a ‘mistake’ really means you are judging yourself as wrong in hindsight - often based solely on the result.  In the moment where life exists -- now -- mistakes cannot happen.  You choose thoughts, words and actions and then you experience an outcome. Choices are neither right or wrong; they are made and then certain outcomes and consequences flow as a result.

How do mistakes work in life?

I like to include a story in my article to illustrate my point, so I began to think about something I considered to be a mistake in my life.  For days I wracked my brain trying to come up with an example.  I truly couldn’t think of anything. To be clear, I’m not saying that all of my choices resulted in fabulous, wonderful outcomes; far from it!  However, in my pondering it finally dawned on me that every thought, word and action I have ever chosen has led me to where I am today.  In that sense, if I think I made a mistake along the way, that would mean I would have to judge where I am now as wrong.  I am where I am. How could where I am now be wrong? To say that I shouldn’t be here is to suggest some alternate path was already pre-destined for me.  I don’t think so.  I’m here because this is where the sum of my thoughts and actions led me.

I have a friend who is unhappy with her life.  She thought that happiness and ‘success’ was to be found in the world of work and so she concentrated all her energies on her career.  Now in her forties, she really regrets her choice.  While her career is going spectacularly well, she has no husband and no kids.  She felt extremely sad, and she cried as she told me of her regret and the ‘mistake’ she had made.  She also said something very interesting, “I’m sure I would have been happier if I had had a family.”  Really?  According to whom?  How could she know?

The truth is, she wasn’t comparing her current life to the reality of her life had she married and had kids. Instead, she was comparing it to her fantasy (or illusion) of what she imagined her life would have been like and how she imagined she would have felt.  There is no way she could know the challenges, difficulties and joys of being married and a parent, much less know she would have felt happier.  Yet she was utterly convinced of it, until I asked her one question, “how do you know?” That one simple question revealed the illusion.  It snapped her out of her imagined fantasy.

It seems to be a bit of a human tendency to project or assume the best outcome from a choice we didn’t make and compare it to the outcome that did manifest, particularly if the outcome is not pleasant or what we wanted.  And it is from this tendency that the idea of ‘mistakes’ is born.

If mistakes are an illusion, what is real?

I recently heard a speaker talk about ‘finding your path’.  The concept made no sense to me.  How could your path possibly exist separate from you? Life is a journey and you create your path with every thought, every decision and every action you take.  What may seem like a mistake, can, I guarantee, be a valuable learning experience if you so choose.  The good news is that you have control over your perspective. You can choose to learn from the experience, beat yourself up for the outcome or blame someone else.  Only one of these choices will lead to happiness, fulfillment and contentment.

Here’s what’s real.  Imagine you are standing in a spot with infinite possible paths in front of you.  Now look behind you and notice the path that led you here.  Notice how all of the twists and turns have brought you to this moment, standing right where you are as you read this article. This is where you are ‘meant’ to be.  This is your path.  How do I know?  Because it is where you are!

Now that you are aware, you can begin to carve your path more consciously.  The more consciously you make your choices and decisions, the more influence you have on the direction your life will take.  If you don’t like the direction your path is headed, you can change it.

So, what if a choice you make results in an outcome you don’t want?  You learn from your experience and make a different choice.  You try again.  Like Thomas Edison, you continue to try new ‘filaments’ in your life and see what happens. Rather than spend time and energy beating yourself up over a decision you made, you can take the learning and leave the rest behind.

If you're frozen and afraid of moving forward for fear of making a mistake, then take a breath and know that you can't make a mistake. Any action you take will give you feedback upon which you can reflect and then choose again.

Looked at in this way, seemingly ‘bad’ experiences can lead to invaluable and powerful personal growth.  Numerous people have said that cancer, car accidents and even death of a loved one, was the ‘best’ thing that ever happened to them.  Are they saying that they liked the experience?  No. They are saying that they learned from the experience and were changed forever.  Perhaps they discovered talents, skills and gifts within themselves they didn’t know existed.  I truly believe that the tremendous amount of compassion I now have is a result of healing the abuse I experienced in my childhood.

Starting now, I invite you to reexamine your life from this new perspective.  Consider the things you thought were mistakes and, in light of this new awareness, see if you can discover the learning you gained from the experience.  How did you grow from it?  What was the hidden gift?  Remember to activate the Divine Feminine gifts of openness, receiving and compassion and be gentle with yourself.

Now, go forth knowing that mistakes are merely an illusion.  When you feel called to action in some way but are afraid of making a mistake, take heart and take a chance. Be open to the consequences, learn from the experience and then choose again and blossom into the beauty and magnificence of YOU!

Rediscover the Strength of the Divine Feminine

Long ago, the Goddess (Divine Feminine) was revered and honoured.  But through the mists of time, the feminine strengths were re-cast as weaknesses and were denigrated.  Our evolution to the next level of consciousness, and indeed our very survival, require that we once again reconnect to, and honour, these feminine strengths. Although the Divine Feminine exists in us all, in the psyches of both men and women, we as individuals and as a society have lost our connection to this part of ourselves. Understanding how and why the feminine strengths were re-cast will assist us in rediscovering the gifts they bring to our lives and move us towards wholeness and balance within ourselves, and consequently in our world.

Since World War II, archeologists have made numerous discoveries related to societies and cultures that existed in the period known as ‘pre-history’. “Pre-His-Story.” How aptly put, since it is thought that these civilizations, which existed in and around the Mediterranean Sea between 6000 and 9000 years ago, worshiped and honoured the goddess and the Divine Feminine.  Among the remains of these civilizations, archeologists have found giant rounded temples and a variety of goddess figurines. The artifacts point to a people who lived in harmony with each other and the land as no signs of fortifications or weapons have been unearthed.    Their art and sculpture suggest a highly spiritually developed people with woman and men working in harmony with each other. Perhaps balance existed between the divine masculine and the divine feminine.  Or perhaps the feminine ruled over the masculine.  We don’t know for sure as this period pre-dates the age of writing.

Around 6000 years ago, things began to change.  Numerous theories abound and it’s not clear exactly what happened.  Some theorize that aggressors from the North, who brought with them a culture of domination and war, began to invade the peaceful goddess worshiping people.  Others suggest different explanations. Neuroscientist Leonard Shlain in his ground-breaking book “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess” suggests that the imbalance between the masculine and feminine came slowly and gradually over thousands of years as the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain towards dominance in linear left-brain thinking.

Regardless of how it happened, the outcome was an imbalance of the masculine over the feminine, and consequently men over women.  The societies changed from being based on partnership (power with) to being based on domination and hierarchy (power-over).  Whether it was caused by war-mongering invaders or a fundamental shift in the brains of humans, the denigration of the feminine, and women, had begun.  “His-Story”, the story of the masculine dominating the feminine, was ushered in by a new age of patriarchal rule.   Eventually the Goddess was dropped altogether and a masculine God replaced the feminine Goddess as ‘the creator’ of life.

The imbalance seems to have hit a pinnacle during the middle ages in Europe.  Society became fearful of womens’ power, and particularly womens’ intuition, and the idea of women as witches was born.  This time in history became known as ‘the burning times’.  It started with a few ‘burnings’ of women who were thought to be witches, and became organized as the ‘witch hunts’ by the church.  Witch burnings started and ended at different times in different areas but generally the burning times lasted over 300 years.  That is a very, very long time.

Although estimates vary, between 45,000 and 300,000 people were killed, 85% of whom were women.  And while the burnings/killings started out as ‘religious’, at some point it became an industry and unfortunately a profitable one.  Officials (Judge, prosecutor and lawyer) would enter a town, find the women of means, find a reason to charge her (more on this in a minute) and then the woman would have to pay for her capture, torture, trial, the judge, the prosecutor, her food and finally her death.  It became an industry unto itself.

This was the final death nail in the coffin of the feminine.  Anything seen as ‘feminine’ was considered to be dangerous; not just undesirable, but actually dangerous.  Imagine being a mother during the burning times and seeing your child display any feminine-type traits.  I, as a mother, in wanting to protect my child, would try and stop the behaviour in whatever way worked.

Feminine traits became synonymous with darkness and witchcraft. Any and all bad events were blamed on the women. Taking an interest in nature, flowers, animals or showing compassion towards others were all behaviours associated with witches.  Women talking or gathering was suspect.  A women who walked alone in nature was highly suspect and women healers and midwives were particularly targeted.  As women, we became subject to the “Stockholm Syndrome” where we began to take as our own, the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of our captors (dominators).

It was during this time that the feminine, and the Goddess, was banished from our psyche and our lives.  Interestingly, it’s not clear what exactly stopped the burning times, although the rise of science is thought to have played a role.   History suggests that around the late 1700s, in most areas of Europe and North America, the insanity ended.  But not before an indelible mark was left on the hearts, minds and psyches of citizens, both men and women.

The memory and wounding of the burning times haunts us still today.  All of us, individually and collectively, have fallen prey to the false belief that feminine traits are weak, unimportant and undesirable and that masculine traits are ‘strong’, desirable and valuable.  Indeed the women’s (feminist) movement in the 1960s was largely about the masculinization of women.

Let me be clear; while this may be a surprising realization, it was a very important and critical step that was necessary to bring us closer to ‘equality’, to bring us and our society back into balance between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine. We, as women, as the embodiment of the feminine, had to ‘prove’ we were worthy, valuable, smart and capable in masculine ways; the ways that mattered to society. This was a necessary first step toward the true re-awakening of the feminine that we are experiencing today.

We live in a dualistic world where everything has its opposite.  Light/dark, up/down, in/out, day/night, left/right yin/yang and the divine is also split into two: masculine and feminine.  Wholeness requires both aspects, and balance between them.  Within ourselves we have the masculine and feminine aspects of our psyches, our brains and our bodies.  All of us, without exception, men and women alike.  Our bodies are a fractal reflection of reality.  The feminine is the heart (feeling, intuition), while the masculine is the head (intellect, reason).  Since we are all out of balance towards the masculine within ourselves, so is our society.

The loss of the Divine Feminine has been devastating for men, women and the earth.  Men lost their connection to their heart.  Women lost their connection to themselves and their innate connectedness to others and the earth.  And the earth lost because humans no longer revered and honoured her life giving abilities and instead began to try to dominate, control and destroy nature (for example, genetically modified foods, industrial agriculture, clear cutting, pollution).  We became very good at being able to separate things into their component parts (a masculine gift), but without the feminine aspect of seeing the relatedness between the parts, and the wholeness of the system, the gift is wasted and often destructive.  In many ways, the earth and therefore we, are headed for disaster if we don’t wake up and change our ways.

What we need is a return to balance between the feminine and the masculine, and the place to start is within ourselves.  For as we change and bring ourselves back into balance, so the world (the ‘collective’ as Carl Jung called it) will also change.  We need balance between our head and our heart, between our intellect and our intuition, between ‘being’ and doing. We need to once again honour the feminine strengths of relatedness, connectedness, intuition, receiving, creativity and being.

Our next evolution in consciousness requires us all, men and women alike, to honour and embody the Divine Feminine principles, to bring ourselves and our psyche’s back into balance. With this, we can create a new world, one that is based on partnership, tolerance and peace.  At least, that is my hope for the future.

Who Mugged the Goddess?

Today is International Women’s Day, the day we remember and honour women for who they are and what they bring to the world. For me, it’s a day to take stock and notice how we, as a society, are honouring the divine feminine principles. Although we’ve come a long way, the journey towards balance between the masculine and feminine is far from over. And to understand where we’re going requires us to understand where we’ve been. This pondering led me to a question: ‘Who mugged the Goddess’?

On a trip to Malta a few years ago, I visited many UNESCO world heritage sites and was struck by what remained of the ancient society that lived there between 6000 and 9000 years ago.  Some of the oldest artifacts on earth have been found on Malta.  We toured through ruins of many ancient temples made of giant stones with round curves; I noticed the structures had beautiful curved shapes and lacked sharp corners.  The museum featured artifacts discovered in and around the temples; carved figures of the feminine form, many showing the miracle of birth and creation that came through women.   It would appear that the inhabitants of this ancient civilization lived in harmony with nature and each other as no fortification or weapons were found.

Other areas around the Mediterranean reveal similar ‘pre-history’ cultures, with women seemingly the center of spiritual life.  Although not much is known about the role of men, various artifacts would suggest that men women worked together in all aspects of life.  Then, over a relatively short period of time, the Goddess disappeared. Shrines originally devoted to various forms or aspects of the Goddess were reconsecrated to honour male deities.  Her role in myths changed from being the ‘creator’ or great Mother to lesser, more supporting, roles.  And in a final act of subjugation, Zeus, the all-powerful male god even began to create life when the goddess Athena sprang fully formed from his brain.  This mythological example may highlight Greek culture, but it was the same in other societies as well.

What Happened to the Goddess?

So, what happened?  Why did the Goddess disappear and, really, does it matter to us today?  It does matter.  It matters because over thousands of years, the fates of the Goddess and that of women in society have been intertwined. As the Goddess disappeared from society, so did women’s status and power.  Knowing the answer may help us to better navigate our evolution into the 21st century and help us come to a greater balance, both within ourselves and within our society.

Numerous explanations for this phenomenon have been suggested, but one of the most compelling I’ve found is by Dr. Leonard Shlain, a surgeon and neuroscientist, in his groundbreaking book, “The Alphabet versus the Goddess”.  Shlain posits that when a society becomes literate, with an alphabetic language, it causes a rapid unbalancing of the brain and psyche towards the left hemisphere – the part of the brain that analyzes, organizes, describes, judges and separates.  It is the part that is logical, rational and linear.

It’s impossible to know if people living in these pre-literate societies had brains that were right hemisphere dominant or were balanced between the two hemispheres.  Regardless, the act of learning to read and write using alphabet-type letters (i.e., symbols or letters that don’t have meaning except when combined with other letters) requires concentrated use of the left hemisphere.  Understanding abstract meaning requires analysis of a linear sequence and cannot be grasped or understood in a holistic, right-brain way.  Looking through this lens, Shlain examines vast periods of history for a variety of cultures around the world and discovers some striking similarities.

A rapid shift to left-brain dominance in a majority of people of a society, he observed, led to a shift from Goddess worship to a single, imageless (primarily) ‘male’ God, the reduction or banning of images (representative art, statues, etc.), the decline or elimination of women’s rights and religious intolerance.  It’s as if the society experiences a temporary ‘madness’.  In culture after culture, this basic pattern has been repeated.

For women in Europe the effect was intensified and the results even more devastating.  The invention of the printing press in approximately 1440 led to an acceleration of literacy rates.  One result was the ‘witch craze’ or the ‘burning times.’  Others call it a genocide against women and when the history is reviewed, this characterization is not an exaggeration.

Before I began to learn about this period of history, I would have accepted that most women who were burned, tortured or killed had, in some way, brought it upon themselves.  No doubt this belief came from the historians who propagated it.  Shlain disputes this notion stating that,

“Whole lifetimes were consumed in abject terror of the coming of the witch hunter with his chains. … At the height of the witch craze, women were killed for being women.”   

At this time, women had no protectors or champions as those sympathetic to their plight were viewed as accomplices and subjected to the same fate.  In fact, it was even worse.  Not only did they not protect women, but virtually all sectors of the intelligencia supported the witch hunts.  University professors, lawyers, judges, doctors and men of all professions looked upon women with suspicion and added intellectual fuel to the fire.

The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) was one of the first mass-produced books and was used as the instruction manual for the witch hunts.  Shlain puts forward a bold suggestion: that the accelerated literacy rates from the development of the printing press, bore greater responsibility for the witch hunts and resulting insanity, as opposed to the content of the book itself.  He noted that women in other societies who lived in reasonably close proximity to the European nations avoided the madness.  Russian women were protected by rampant illiteracy while those in the bordering Muslim countries were spared by the cultural preference for calligraphy over the printed word, which had the effect of slowing literacy rates.

Indeed, it was a dark time for women, Divine Feminine principles and the Goddess. Shlain asserts:

“The slumber of countless women was no doubt restless and troubled, filled with remembered or imagined fiends coming at them with instruments of torture.  This anxiety, penetrating deep into the psychic female marrow, cannot be accounted for in dry, statistical analysis.”

The burning times lasted five generations – that’s an awfully long time.  According to Shlain, it was the rise of science that ended the insanity, but unfortunately science did not view women or women’s values in a positive light either.  Shlain asserts that the resurgence of women’s rights in the last century can be attributed to the rise of image and electromagnatism.  “An image is worth a thousand words” and the photograph did for the image what the printing press did for the written word.  Together these two forces began to strengthen the right hemisphere of the brain and began the process of returning society to a balance between left and right brain hemispheres, between masculine and feminine, and between men and women.

Fast Forward to Today

I would assert that the legacy and scars of this period of history endure on the psyche of women and men today.  It manifests differently for everyone and some women seem to be unaffected while others, like myself, seem to have been deeply affected.  Standing out from the crowd in any way is met with unexplained internal anxiety.  As a society, left-brain values still dominate over those associated with the right brain, but I am optimistic about the many signs of change.

For women and men, I see a need for great healing.  We need to heal those deep wounds to our psyche.  We need to create a safe place where our right-brain principles and gifts can be honoured and shared, by men and women.  And of course, the place to start is within ourselves.  Honour your intuition, your caring, your nurturing, your relationships, your knowing, your divine wise self within.

To all those who suffered, I am deeply sorry for your pain.  You bore the cost of the amazing technological advances that we now enjoy. Today, and always, I wish you eternal peace and love.

What Creates Success: Goals or Intentions?

Our society is obsessed with goals.  Gurus in all shapes and sizes preach about the power and importance of goal setting for success. Many suggest that without goals, your life will stall and you will never achieve your full potential. But is this true?  I would suggest that while goals are important, they are only one half of the equation. The other, seemingly ’forgotten’ half, are intentions.  The difference between goals an intentions may seem like semantics, but it’s not. The title is misleading because in fact personal success and happiness come when intentions and goals are used together, in balance.

I had been curious about goals and intentions for a while when I had the opportunity to listen to a long-time hero of mine, Jack Canfield (of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame) give a keynote address. He talked about success, goal setting, focus and hard work.  At the end I thought, who better than Jack to ask about the difference between goals and intentions, so I did.  He replied that goals are powerful and intentions are not; goals are focussed and intentions are wish-washy and when you set an intention, you set yourself up for failure rather than success.  His answer left me feeling somewhat perplexed.  It just didn’t sit right.  Like a rock in my shoe, his answer continued to irritate me, even though it was completely consistent with the prevailing theory. I knew there was some juicy truth in this somewhere, but in that moment I couldn’t figure it out.

Perhaps ironically, I set an intention to discover the difference.  A few weeks later, in the middle of the night, I had an epiphany.  Setting intentions and setting goals are both powerful modalities, but useful in different situations for different purposes. When faced with a nail, a hammer is the tool of choice.  Conversely, using a hammer when faced with a screw just doesn’t work.   I realized that goals work better for jobs related to the realm of ‘doing’ (Divine Masculine), while intentions work better for jobs in the realm of ‘being’ (Divine Feminine).  Goals and intentions are complementary tools and neither is better than, or subordinate to, the other. So Jack, while my overall respect for you remains, on the issue of intention I must respectfully disagree!

Proponents of goal-setting like Jack Canfield emphasize the need for goals to be focussed, specific and measurable.  For things in the realm of doing, achieving or having, goal setting works perfectly.  It is a great tool when the outcome you desire is known or specific.  You can have a goal to be a certain weight, by a certain date and then on that date you either are or are not that weight and you either did or didn’t achieve your goal.  You can set a goal to get a specific job or a new car.  Simple.  Logical.  Rational.  Straightforward. Goals relate to things that are external and physical; things within the realm of the Divine Masculine.

When you set a goal, metaphorically you put a stake in the ground at some future date and the stake becomes your point of your focus.  You narrow your field of vision and move towards it.  You make the goal as specific as possible.  Then when you ‘arrive’ at the stake you can measure the extent to which you achieved your goal. End of story, right? How simple and straightforward. Clearly intention plays no part in this process.

But what about the things that can’t be defined, aren’t measurable or the outcome isn’t known?  In other words, things that are in the invisible realm of the Divine Feminine, like life purpose or qualities of being, such as patience or love.  This realm of ‘being’ is where the power of setting intentions shines through!  In contrast to goals, when you set an intention, you activate a magnet where you are and begin to attract that which you desire to you.  Whereas goals require you to ‘do’ and take action, intentions require you to be ‘open’ and receive.  While goals require focus; intentions require you to let go.  With intentions you don’t set specifics or dates; you ask a question or identify the quality of being, attract experiences, grow and learn and open to receive the intention. When you set an intention, you tap into the very fabric of the Universe.

Another difference between goals and intentions lies in the place from which they originate.  Goals come from the ego and intellect since you choose the outcome you want and work towards it.  By contrast, intentions come from your heart and you need to be open and aware to receive them; you don’t know what the outcome will look like or in fact when it will ‘arrive’.  Goals lead to physical outcomes at a point in time, while intentions put you on a path in a particular direction.  Goals lead to something specific (masculine) while intentions take you on a journey (feminine).

Perhaps an example would be helpful.  Many people want to know their life purpose.  You can’t really set a goal to ‘know’ your life purpose by a certain date.  It doesn’t make sense.  How do you measure it?  What ‘actions’ do you take to achieve the knowing?  Most importantly, how do you know when you have achieved it?  By contrast, if you set an intention to discover your life purpose, you set the magnet and then let it go.  You open yourself to receive, you observe and see what shows up, you notice what you notice, and you begin to attract experiences that will further your journey towards your life purpose.

By the same token, it would make no sense to set an intention to go on a vacation at the Grand Hyatt resort on Maui in September 2016.  Since you know what you want (i.e., the outcome) then you can plan your actions accordingly to achieve the goal.  I think this is what Jack Canfield was actually talking about when he said that intentions were weak.  When you use the wrong tool for the job, it generally doesn’t work.  He’s right about that.  Setting a goal that isn’t specific and measurable is like setting an intention and not letting go.

Here is another important aspect to all of this.  Not only are goals and intentions complementary, two sides of the same coin, and used for different types of jobs, but real personal success comes from using them together, in balance.  If you only set goals you are likely to be very dissatisfied with your life. You will be so focussed on the external world you will miss the magical inner journey.  By the same token, if you only set intentions you will be similarly frustrated because without acting on the intuition you receive, you miss the opportunity to stretch and grow and experience the outer world.

Whenever my clients want a change in their life, which generally stems from a desire to change the quality of their being, I always invite them to begin by setting an intention.  Then, as they draw towards them the opportunities, experiences and knowing which appear on the path they can begin to set goals along the way to bring it into form.  Success arises from the dance between Divine Masculine goals and Divine Feminine intentions.  When we powerfully use both and allow the dance to flow within us, we can create a magnificent, beautiful life and world.

How to set an intention

With the hyper focus on goals in our society, information about goal setting methods abound.  This is not so with intentions; so here is my quick start guide to setting intentions.  Know that setting an intention is quite a different process than setting a goal.  You use your intellect to set a goal whereas you use your heart to set an intention.

The first step is to quiet your mind.  Meditation, prayer or walking in nature are good ways to create that quiet space. Once you are in that state of relaxed awareness, shift your focus to the centre of your forehead, and ignite your imagination.  Picture and feel your intention in your mind’s eye and mentally activate the magnet.  Then shift your awareness to your heart and ask for it to open.  When you feel complete, open your eyes and get on with your day.  Know that if you remain open to receive that indeed you will.  Enjoy the journey!

The Exquisite Gift of Intuition

Years ago, the concept of intuition was completely foreign to me. For those who know me now, you might find that surprising.  Oh sure, I had heard of ‘women’s intuition’; but it seemed to me to be some kind of ‘spooky’ random thing that happened to women on occasion.  I had no idea that I could learn to tap into my intuition or that I could receive guidance stemming from knowledge existing outside of our space/time continuum.  Intrigued?

My first spiritual teacher and best friend, Katie, introduced me to intuition.  Up to that point in my life, my few glimpses of ‘something more’, were indeed fleeting and random.  After a lunch date, Katie needed to stop at the drug store to pick up some shampoo.  We walked down the shampoo aisle, and Katie scanned the shelves.  She picked one bottle, held it close to her body, closed her eyes, and began to gently sway back and forth. Then she did the same thing with a few more bottles. I looked around, embarrassed, to see if anyone was looking.  I didn’t know what to think; my intellectual mind went straight to judgement, which, of course, is precisely what it does.

She chose her shampoo, paid and we walked outside.  I was curious and wanted to know exactly what she was doing and why.  I queried, “I noticed the way you held each of the shampoo bottles; what were you doing with your eyes closed?”

“Oh,” she replied matter-of-factly, “I was tuning in.”

“Ahhh… “ I replied and paused for a few moments before adding, “tuning into what?”

She smiled and said, “My inner wisdom, my intuition.”

I wondered if I, too, had access to inner wisdom or intuition.  With that thought, I decided to find out. I am really a skeptic at heart who needs to experience things before believing them, so I started running my own personal intuition experiments.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I was open and willing to give it a try.  The first thing I learned is that I needed to be able to distinguish between the voice of my intuition and that of my fear or intellect.  This is incredibly important, since both fear and intellect are very adept at masquerading as the voice of intuition. Making the distinction took a lot of practice, patience and awareness.

Over time, I became pretty good at distinguishing the various voices and apparently I was ready to receive a very profound lesson. I learned, first-hand, that when I tap into my intuition, I access wisdom from outside our physical space/time continuum. While the issue wasn’t important, the experience was profound. Here’s how it happened.

I wanted to surprise my Mom with tickets to a play for her birthday.  I called the box office to see if tickets were available.  They were.  I called my mom to see if she was available.  She was.  It was all good, except that every time I picked up the phone to order the tickets, I felt a sensation in my gut and heard the word ‘no’ from inside my mind.  Not an angry or fearful ‘no’, just a calm, quiet ‘no’.  An intuitive ‘no’.  I’d put down the phone and would feel ‘normal‘ again.  This process actually went on for a few weeks, with me trying to buy tickets every few days and having the same experience.  Several times I double checked and triple A checked; my mom was available and the tickets were available so why couldn’t I order the darn tickets?

As the date for the play grew closer, I grew increasingly annoyed.  Over and over I puzzled about the reason why I couldn’t order the tickets.  It made no sense whatsoever.  At this point my ego decided to take this as a personal affront:  

Who is this ‘intuition’ that is trying to usurp my power?  Doesn’t it realize that I am in control?  I am smart, and I checked and double checked and it all works, so I’m going to buy the tickets! 

Yet, every time I tried to buy the tickets the same thing happened.  Finally, I had had enough.  The date to purchase tickets over the phone had passed, so I had to drive down to the box office personally.  As I stood in line, I had the same overwhelming sense in my gut that I shouldn’t buy them.

But now I, and my ego, were determined!  I waited patiently in the long line.  At the counter, I requested the tickets I wanted; as I started to pull my VISA card from my wallet, it literally flew out of my fingers and across the room. I ran over to retrieve it, more determined than ever to buy the stupid tickets.  And I did.  I over-rode the feeling in my gut and the gentle but firm, ‘no’ in my mind.  Done.  Over.

The morning of the performance I was feeling rather smug.  “See,” my ego said with pride, “your mom loved receiving the tickets and tonight she will get to see the show.”  I’m sure I even heard a ‘ha’ thrown in for good measure.  Shortly after, I received a phone call from my Dad, telling me that my Mom had been admitted to hospital for a minor emergency.  They wouldn’t be able to attend the show, so they wanted us to pick up the tickets and attend in their place.

We went to the show that evening, and I ….. was ….. humbled.  The show was not exactly my La cup of tea, but my Mom and Dad would have loved it.  I was right about that.  Interestingly, the whole experience created more questions than answers.  Was it coincidence? While possible, having lived the experience, I am highly skeptical that it was coincidence.  Yet, a nagging question remained, “How could my intuition have known, in advance, that my mother would be admitted to hospital on the day – not the day after – and would not be able to attend the performance?”

After trying to figure it out intellectually and failing miserably, I decided that it was a mystery;  I simply needed to honour and trust my intuition from that time forward.  I learned that there is information, knowledge and wisdom beyond what we know in our physical space/time continuum.  There has to be.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense. And indeed this learning has been validated many times over the years.

I am so grateful to have had this experience!  It provided such a powerful lesson.  I have since learned that the more I follow my intuition, regardless of whether my ego or intellectual mind understand or like the message, the stronger my connection grows, and the easier it is to receive messages and stay connected.  I find it interesting to note that we often talk of ‘tapping into’ our intuition, implying that there is a constant, steady stream that we are able to tap into.  I believe this is literally true.  Quantum physicists would agree.

I invite you to tap into and find your own source of inner wisdom, your intuition.  Don’t take my word for it; run your own experiments!   Life is a great learning lab.  As always, start by setting your intention to strengthen your connection to your intuition.  Then become aware of the sensation of intuition for you.  Do you feel it in your body?  Hear it in your mind?  See a picture or vision?  Pay particular attention to the feeling that accompanies your intuition.  It is my experience that intuition comes with a calm, open feeling; never an angry or fearful one.  The situation may be fearful, but my intuition about it is still calm.

Intuition is one of the most exquisite gifts of the Divine Feminine, and it is available to all who seek with an open heart.  Have fun!

Open to Life!

A big myth lurks in our society.  It invades all aspects of our lives from our relationships to our careers to our free time.  It is this:  nothing happens unless we ‘do’ something to make it happen. Yes, ‘doing’ can make things happen; but there is another way, which is less known and celebrated, but yet is just as powerful, if not more powerful. Being open. Notice that I said ‘being’ open, because it truly is a state of being, an energy or vibration at which you flow or resonate. When you are open, opportunities and synchronicities abound!

Perhaps an example would be helpful. A year ago a friend called me with a request.  She was asked to write an article on the Divine Feminine and she intuitively thought that I should be the one to write it since I had recently taken a great interest in the topic. I checked with my own intuition and got a ‘yes’, so I wrote the article and submitted it to the publisher. The publisher was thrilled with my article and ended up asking me to write regularly for the magazine! What a fabulous opportunity!  The gifts which have continued to flow are amazing!

Here is what I didn’t do. I didn’t decide that I wanted to write articles, research various magazines for which to write, contact editors, write and submit sample articles, follow-up, network like crazy to find someone who knows someone…  Instead, I opened myself to any and all opportunities which would benefit me and the world.  I set my intention.  I received the phone call, checked inside, followed my heart and then wrote the article.  The rest, as they say, is history.

What does it take to be open to life? Setting your intention, connecting to your intuition, quieting your thoughts and practice.  I’d love to hear the ways in which you are open to life!  Leave a comment and let me know!