reclaiming the divine feminine
‘Then creation recognised its Creator in its own forms and appearances. For in the beginning, when God said, ‘Let it be!’ and it came to pass, the means and the Matrix of creation was Love, because all creation was formed through Her as in the twinkling of an eye.’ 1The Holy Spirit as Sapientia, Hildegard of Bingen.
Ever since the industrial revolution and the rise of the dominance of a rationalist paradigm, science has imposed upon life the image of the world as dead matter, something that we can freely pollute and abuse. We have become separated from our true nature, that of being one with Earth. We are paying the price of our desires to dominate nature, of our acts of hubris. The established patriarchal institutions all have a vested interest in keeping the individual mind disconnected from the experience of cosmic oneness, because this disconnection enables the continuation of our current exploitative society. We cannot solve this environmental catastrophe by ignoring the root of the destruction, for this means we are trying to solve the problem in the same way the problem has been created, through cutting everything off from its sacred source, cutting everything off from its root.
What we are talking about here is a return to the deep recognition that we are not separate from Earth. We come from Earth, we are of Earth, Earth sustains us through our life, we return to Earth. When we talk about the reclaiming of the divine feminine, this is what we are talking about. We are talking about the wisdom that has been known throughout the ages that our own divinity comes through being in communion with nature. The Divine is only known through relationship, whether it is through relationship with self, other people, Deity or Earth. As we deepen our relationship with earth, we come to know more of the Divine.
This connection to nature is named the ‘divine feminine’ because we are talking about an energy that is generative, immanent, relational and compassionate. We are currently witnessing the results of a world where the divine feminine presence is absent, a world we exploit for greed and power, one that we rape and pollute often without even noticing. When we reclaim the wisdom found in the divine feminine, we ‘begin the work of welcoming her back, or reconnecting with the divine that is at the core of creation, and learning once again how to work with the sacred principles of life. Without the intercession of the divine feminine we will remain in this physical and spiritual wasteland we have created, passing on to our children a diseased and desecrated world.’2Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, The Golden Sufi Centre, 2009, 4.
One practice that encompasses the paradigm of restoring hope through the generative, immanent, relational, compassionate’ energy of the divine feminine is the Celtic tradition. Richly experiencing the divine revealed in nature, knowing that nothing can separate us from this divinity, drawing on the wisdom found in myths, passionate about learning, seeking silence and solitude as a doorway to the divine, honouring the leadership of both women and men, being attuned to the cycles of birth, death and rebirth – these are just some of the traits of a Celtic spirituality that honours the divine feminine. In the Celtic tradition, Brigid, in her expression as both saint and goddess, is a primary manifestation of the feminine face of God. She offers a particular consciousness that is based on generosity, integrity and fecundity, all qualities that are desperately needed in our current world. Brigid as a threshold figure, born at dawn, poised on the brink between a Christian and a pagan world, offers hope into the threshold time of now. Stories of Brigid abound; where we find hope through her example is in her ability to believe in the potential for what is imagined to come into reality and, most importantly, take the steps needed to begin this healing. It is acting ‘as if…’ – acting as if the desired outcome already exists.
For hope to emerge beyond our disintegrating world, we have to hold the image of a restored world very clearly, believing it is possible for the dream to become the future. It is trusting emphatically that what we need for Earth healing begins once we begin the work. This is the innate source of hope found through the example of Brigid.
The importance of the divine feminine symbol for women cannot be over-stressed. This image ‘inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, our anger as purifying, and our power to nurture and create, but also to limit and destroy when necessary, as the very force that sustains all life… (Here) we discover our strength, enliven our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions. We can move beyond narrow, constricting roles and become whole.’3Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, Harper & Row, 1979, 9. This is the place from which women can be active participants in Earth’s healing. Whilst we may attempt to combat global warming and pollution with scientific plans, there will be no real change if we remain disconnected from the soul work required. Without the participation of the divine feminine nothing new can be born and because this is a birth, the feminine has to be present, not just as an idea but as a living presence within us.
The necessity for the reclaiming of the divine feminine energy is not an anti-male sentiment. Far from it! The divine feminine is in within each of us, though often under layers of contamination, for we are all capable of creative, generative responses to our current crises. By honouring the symbol of the divine feminine, men are enabled to experience and integrate the feminine side of their nature, which is often felt to be the deepest and most sensitive aspect of self. Reinstating the Divine Feminine as a primary mode through which to understand right relationship means restoring the sacredness of a nurturing, all embracing divinity. God’s masculine omnipotence and transcendence needs to be balanced by the feminine aspects of care and nearness. We need a relationship with Deity that is immanent as well as transcendent for Earth to be healed. ‘The mystery of the divine feminine speaks to us from within her creation. She is not a distant god in heaven, but a presence here with us, needing our response… She can help us give birth to the divine that is within us, to the oneness that is all around us. She can help us remember our real nature.’4Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine, 14. Hope comes when there is space to embrace the divine feminine that is revealed through and within this beautiful planet.
When the masculine way of knowing – that of the science of the mind – is combined with the feminine way of knowing – that of the inner senses, we can find a blueprint for the planet that will enable us to live in creative harmony with all of life.
… Read more about this topic in Handbook of Hope: Emerging Stories Beyond a Disintegrating World by Cath Connelly, available here.