In recent months, my attention has shifted towards the powerful and elusive concept of ‘the divine feminine’. What does it mean? How does it manifest itself? Why is it so important now? And how can we cultivate it? I discussed the concept at length with a few conscious women and found that it’s magnitude and intangibility escaped the confines of any simple definition; yet it seemed to resonate deeply within us all. My rational mind craved an explanation so I began to explore and unravel the mystery of ‘the divine feminine’, discovering its many meanings and manifestations along the way.
To begin, it is helpful to consider the ancient Chinese symbol ‘Yin and Yang’; the circular shape denotes the divine unity of life through the harmonious balance of the divine feminine (Yin) and the divine masculine (Yang); divine in this sense can be understood as ‘originating from source’. Regardless of physical gender, sex or sexuality we are each a unique combination of both feminine and masculine energy (referred to in yoga as ‘Shiva and Shakti’ or ‘Ida and Pingala’).
According to the ancient Chinese belief, the characteristics of the feminine are: nurturing, intuitive, fluid, flexible, receptive, gentle and ‘being’. The characteristics of the masculine are: focused, driven, logical, rigid, stable, problem-solving and ‘doing’.
While we all express both feminine and masculine characteristics in our behaviour, these expressions are heavily influenced by our society, it’s values and our subsequent social conditioning. In England and most of the western world, we live in a patriarchal, capitalist society that values and embodies masculine characteristics such as competition, logic and drive. Our social conditioning is such that we are taught to attribute feminine characteristics to females and masculine to males, hence we tend to express them in this way through our behaviour. In order to adapt to our masculine dominated environment, we naturally express more masculine traits, causing our feminine qualities (that are of little societal value) to be greatly repressed.
It is argued that the dominance of the ‘divine masculine’ was largely reinforced by religion. The majority of religions including Christianity, Islam and Hinduism worship male gods and these can be understood as symbolic expressions of the ‘divine masculine’. Throughout his-story there has been a significant lack of symbolic expression of the ‘divine feminine’; women were given little importance in religious scriptures or completely misidentified (e.g. the case of Mary Magdalene in Christianity). Aside from a few stories about powerful female goddesses in Greek mythology, very little religious content exists in support of the divine feminine.
Beyond society and religion the lack of ‘the divine feminine’ also manifests itself spiritually, culturally and environmentally; spiritually through the sense of internal and interpersonal disconnection (e.g. the increased lack of faith or connection to self, the ensuing rise of addictions, mental illness and increased individualism); culturally through the lack of tradition or ceremony that historically celebrated the divine feminine (e.g. the extinction of ancient fertility rituals or the lost sanctity of the menstrual cycle that has now been reduced to shelves of sanitary products); and environmentally through our destruction of mother earth.
So we can observe a great imbalance between the expression of the divine masculine and the divine feminine in many areas of life. The times that we are currently living in can be understood as an energetic imbalance; due to the domination of masculine characteristics internally and externally we are facing increased global, social, economic, emotional and spiritual fragmentation and disconnection. To re-balance this energy there is a need to cultivate feminine characteristics in order to increase our sense of unity and connection. “A world that is not connected to its soul cannot heal. Without the participation of the divine feminine nothing new can be born” (Vaughan-Lee, 2007).
Fortunately, nature has an innate ability to return to balance and we are already engaging in a powerful energetic shift. This can be observed spiritually through the rise of interest and engagement in yoga, meditation and practices that increase our soul-connection and ability to ‘be’ instead of ‘do’; Socially through women’s empowerment and reducing gender inequality; psycho-socially through increased recognition and acceptance of other genders that express different degrees of masculine and feminine characteristics; and culturally through recognized celebrations of women’s achievements during powerful events such as International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
Personally, I have been connecting to my divine feminine through my yoga practice, attending women’s circles, cacao ceremonies (that strongly focus on the divine feminine) or simply spending time with other women. Courter (2015) suggests some other simple ways include connecting to mother earth by standing barefoot or lying down on the ground; self-healing using crystals like rose quartz (for emotional healing) or amazonite (for balancing feminine and warrior energies); practicing self-care; tuning into your lunar cycle to observe your bodies innate wisdom or creating a sacred space or mini sanctuary in your home to meditate and just ‘be’.
“Only through working together with the sacred feminine can we heal and transform the world. And this means to honour her presence within our bodies and our soul, in the ground we walk on and the air we breathe” (Vaughan-Lee, 2007)
Jessie Fuller was born in Kenya to British-Chinese parents and raised multi-culturally in Croatia, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. She has a degree in Psychology and Sociology and is currently living in London, completing her Masters in Psychoanalytic Studies at Birkbeck University. While she continues to work in the psychosocial field, she connects to her Eastern roots through her yoga teaching and practice (www.fullerflow.co.uk ). Her intention is to merge her academic background in western psychology with a holistic, Eastern approach to healing and combine the best of both worlds in her writing and practice.