by Suzanne Bishop, MS
Acknowledgement of Spiritualism
I want to begin this article with the acknowledgment of the impact the early Spiritualist movement had on moving women forward toward their rightful place in society, and, in spirit. Women were given a once prohibited voice and platform from which to speak via Spiritualism, a voice which was unheard in Victorian times. This voice was in part the reason Spiritualism grew so fast in popularity among women of that era. I personally feel that this gesture, one of allowing the freedom of women’s spiritual expression on a once male dominated platform, is in part the beginning of a much wider and broader manifestation of the feminine principle in action, one that is being witnessed across the globe today. The acknowledgment and evidence of the continuity of life, as practiced by Spiritualists, is in keeping with the feminine principle. Life is indeed a continuous web of relationships (Humankind alive and deceased), and that human consciousness lives on after death. There exists no duality, but does in fact include a web of relationship and communication.
Feminine Principle in Action
What is the feminine principle in action? The feminine principle in action is my description and phrase for the reemergence of the sacred feminine that existed before our societies were created; before the Matriarchal Goddess societies from our distant past and the Patriarchal male dominated societies in which we live today. The sacred feminine began when time began. The sacred feminine IS the web of life, and “The Divine Feminine is this unseen dimension of soul to which we are connected through our instincts, our feelings, and the longing imagination of our heart.” (Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring, 1996) Femininity is a cosmic archetype. The feminine principle in action is the reawakening of all people to the connection they have already had to their soul, to the earth, to the impact they have on other people and their environment, to their own mortality as finite humans and to their infinite spirit. Awakening the feminine also involves the willingness to trust. Being ok with not knowing (not controlling), is a feminine virtue. Allowing nature to take its course is the trust in the feminine web of life to do its thing without resorting to “taking control”. Another example of the feminine principle in action is the ability to work with others collectively, with free sharing of ideas and abilities. A modern example of this connection is how we are all connected instantly through the world wide web, and social systems like FaceBook. There is a part of this media crazed world that is feminine in nature. We share feelings, our imagination, we elicit immediate responses, use imagery to convey our ideas, and we work together online in groups for higher purposes. We feel connected, and we revel in our unique part within a larger community.
Anyone can have a feminine principle in action moment. Just the act of allowing oneself to daydream with no specific goal in mind is a FPIA moment. Necessity is the mother of invention, we all are becoming aware of our own environmental impact we have on Gaia. This mythological name reemerged in 1979 with the help of James Lovelock, in Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. We all collectively realize we must transform our ourselves from ego-based (fear-based and incessantly seeking to acquire and conquer) to an allowance for inclusion of an instinctual, communal, and spirit/love based way of life.
Transition from Goddess to Gods
The female gender has not had it easy throughout the transition from the Goddess to God expression of Spirit. That particular history deserves many other articles and deep inquiry elsewhere as the events surrounding the slow demotion of women is multifaceted, and rich in symbolism. This Goddess to God expression of Spirit was only our growing consciousness. Societal changes, and men’s collective primal fears of the power of the sacred feminine made it inevitable for men to exert control and authority over women. Beginning with the consciousness of the particles of matter that we were, to our now male dominated societies, we are simply on a time continuum that is currently manifesting back to the consciousness of our feminine selves. Our consciousness will simply no longer allow for a singular male dominated society, one that leaves little tolerance for nonlinear thinking, intuition and instinctive ways of being and relating. Factors, from the increasing use of imagery and metaphors in media (many matriarchal societies had predominately pictorial language systems and symbolism played a rich part of daily life), to our recognizing that we all need one another to put the ecological balance back in place, to the freedom we have to dream and imagine a peaceful world, are leading us all back to the feminine garden. Scientists acknowledge that life itself is driven by the female “X” chromosome, as we are all born with the basic “X” chromosome. It is only later on in development in vitro that we may diverge off into the male “Y” chromosome, and thus be born a male. Female IS the norm of life. It is also within the female gene pool that all genetic matter that is vital to life carries on in generations to come. Something I never learned in school: the theory that we are all predominately right-handed is due to the fact that prehistoric women probably held their newborn infants on their left side nearest to their heart to comfort them, while multitasking with their right hand–hard at work on daily tasks of living. (Rosalind Miles , p. 23) That behavior evidently was held in our gene pool and carried on through female ancestors; we therefore inherited a right dominant hand thanks to the comfort a woman instinctively provides her baby.
Symbols in our Dreamworld
Everyone does dream. There is a wealth of knowledge about oneself through the relationship to the sacred feminine, and its vast vault of symbolism in our dream time. We have collective and personal archetypes swimming into our dream world nightly. An archetype is simply a universally understood symbol or pattern of behavior. Archetypes come from influences that are both ancient and universal, they become personalized when they are a part of an individual’s inner psyche. The idea of archetypes goes back as far as Plato. Everyone is different in how they express these archetypes in their dreams. Cultures and society (media plays a big role) can also influence their expression. A Catholic woman will dream completely different variations of female archetypes than say a woman from an isolated tribe in the Amazon. They simply come from different societies, the myths are different in how they are expressed to each woman in each society. Writing your dreams down is a start to finding your inner relationship to the sacred feminine. Myths are acted out everyday in our literature, and in our movies. These myths impact us and at times define who we are. As a small child, I was absolutely confronted with the helplessness of how Fay Wray was portrayed in the fictional movie “King Kong”. I was astonished; I sat down to rewrite the script to show how powerful the female character really was. I showed Fay Wray and King Kong as equals, and not as just another female needing to be saved. The movie itself had the actress served up as a sacrifice, which echos our own patriarchal history of treating women as expendable. My last word on societal myths: If the myth does not suit you or jive with the definition of who you are, then rewrite the myth; recreate the myths in your life that no longer reflect who you are. Transform the worn out myths into personal road maps for ways of being. Transform the man-made myths, and seek the divine myths that are all around us. Examples of some of these divine myths and symbols: the circle, spiral, web, moon myths, and ovals are just some of the symbols coming from our natural world. They loudly reflect the feminine. Go on a symbol quest, and find many more to incorporate into your spiritual toolbox.
A few more common divine feminine symbols and archetypes (These are associated with women, but men express them too):
Mother, Protector, Healer, Lover, Virgin, Queen, Beauty, Nature, The Sea or Ocean
Society influenced symbols and archetypes, some of which are also expressed in men:
Caregiver, Nurse, Witch, Old Hag, Victim, Damsel, Diva, Crone, Rescuer, Goddess, Servant
Where do we go from here? This is not an article that has a focus to demote men, or the masculine principle. I only tried to illuminate the struggles of women throughout the ages; their voices, femininity and history are really cornerstones of spirituality led by feminine example. Women’s very existence not only physiologically and genetically made us who we are, the feminine principle that lies dormant in every man and woman was kept safe deep within Her psyche to be reborn for those who seek peace, love, and connection to the web of life today. Spiritualism really does have a prominent place in this rebirth. Spiritualists maintain a conversation with the spirit world, which is really an ongoing relationship with its members. Spiritualists acknowledge this “web” of life and even celebrate it. Spiritualists use their innate intuition to maintain this conversation with the dead and higher realms. Spiritualism’s history and current practices embody many of the feminine principles in action.
A last note on women and spirituality: The very act of being a woman is an expression of spirituality, if you look at the core of who we are. Our world has to get back to the feminine garden if we are to survive the world we created. It is the neglect, and pushing aside by society of the feminine principles of caring, nurturing, relationship, respect for life, community, and love that has created the mess of war, greed and control that we all endure. Women and men are aligning with the feminine principles more than ever. The child inside me is banking on it.
Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring, The Divine Feminine, (Conari Press, 1996) p. 6
Rosalind Miles, Who Cooked the Last Supper? (Three Rivers Press, 2001) p. 23