"For most of History, Anonymus was a Woman" (Virginia Woolf 1929)
"The world will be saved by Western Women" (Dalai Lama, 2009)
Not long ago I spoke to a friend who is part of a team organizing a consciousness conference. Looking at the speakers and their subjects, I was surprised that a conference dedicated to ‘ecology, consciousness, human evolution, spirituality, future’ didn’t include a topic that explored the outcomes of the imbalance of the feminine and masculine in our patriarchal societies. This was reflected in the line up of speakers, who were predominantly male. I checked a few more events in the consciousness conference calendar and found a similar picture: only one third, or sometimes even less, of the speakers were female.
This wouldn’t be worth mentioning if we were dealing with a different subject, but it certainly warrants some reflection when we look at conferences within the consciousness, eco- and spirituality scene
We all begin to understand that a functioning, sustainable whole requires the feminine and the masculine to be integrated within the individual and within humanity as a whole, and we are increasingly aware of the dysfunctional results of millennia of human development based almost solely on patriarchal, masculine value systems. The issues deriving from this one-sided way of thinking and being reach from the appalling way women were, and still are, treated all over the world to the over-exploitation of our planet’s (mother earth’s) resources. They show themselves in the way we use wars as a means of conflict resolution and in the non-caring, self-centred attitudes of our societies. They have led to the exclusion of the feminine from our major religions and to valuing individual success, hierarchical structures and left-brain scientific thinking more than caring for communities, sharing structures and emotional intelligence and connection. None of the countless issues we face on this planet today can be resolved by our current way of thinking and being, based on our established, mainly masculine, value systems.
So, why is the feminine principle not more prominent as a subject and, as importantly, why aren’t more women invited to speak about it? When I asked my friend, who is a heart- and soul-orientated guy, this question, he replied “Oh, it didn’t even occur us.” Yes, that’s exactly it! It is a kind of ‘thoughtless’ acceptance of the status quo.
The feminine wasn’t always subordinate to the masculine. As far as we know, it was the earth, nature itself, who provided our ancient, tribal forefathers and mothers with the concept of the Great Mother and with a value system based on nature’s ways and cycles. The Great Mother was a symbol of life itself. In her womb grew all of life; from her body emerged all of life; she sustained all of life through the nourishment she provided, and all living things retuned to her when dying. Therefore, the Great Mother, as an inclusive force of life, and its cycles, was seen as being sacred. The feminine principle stems in its origins from this nature-based concept, as the female body exhibits the same patterns and cycles as nature. Consequently, the feminine was seen as the life-giving, nurturing, sustaining and life-embracing force, the ‘creative vessel of life that contained, birthed, nurtured and protected’. Not surprising, then, that ancient people respected the feminine.
Over many millennia, we developed from a tribal, hunter-gatherer existence. We became more powerful users of tools and resources; we established agriculture and individual possession; we begun to fight territorial wars; we started to build big cities and civilizations and we grew in numbers. And as all of this was happening, our spiritual systems changed: the feminine, as the sacred womb-creatrix, was replaced by the masculine all-powerful god-head. We went from female goddesses and priestesses, to both male and female deities, and then to the dominance of the male gods and male priests. These gods were fierce, war-orientated, powerful creatures, competing with each other for influence and for the possession and sub-ordination of the feminine. This became increasingly evident in ancient Greece around 500 – 400 BC, but so far as our current state of consciousness is concerned the subjugation of the feminine principle reached its culmination in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In these three ‘religions of the book’ the ‘one masculine God in the sky’ is firmly established whilst the sacred feminine disappears either completely or is, as in Christianity for instance, replaced with a split, guilty woman and a holy mother, subordinated to her son.