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.