The more I keep listening to my deepest yearnings as a woman to break away from the binds of how I’ve been taught to be, I find clarity, freedom, joy, vast creativity and peacefulness. This doesn’t mean I’m rebelling, as much as I’m discerning with my Fierce Compassion about what is right for me. I am seeking other expressions of being a woman fully throughout the stages of our life cycle. Whether we are in a modern age or seeing our ancestral history, archetypes show the power of our female behaviors and expressions vividly. I am seeking “The Goddess” or the Divine Feminine in all her expressions throughout time. As I explore the spiritual path within me (she is immanent) where I value my inner resources and strengths, I find the essence of The Goddess. Patricia Monaghan, author of The Goddess Path says, The Goddess is a power far beyond our expression (she is transcendent) because we can see her in the life force itself, around us, in everything that is living around us. She is the Goddess of all the archetypes and myths through time that have given roadmaps for all humanity beyond and before us—the universal force of Mothering. She represents the sustenance and healing to heal cultural wounds and Mother Earth itself.
The reason it has taken me so long to find this understanding and power of the Mother Goddess is because she was hidden from me and scorned as pagan. I bought into the Patriarchy of our culture, our religions that ignored her, and separated from the feminine gifts I was born with, in order to be noticed, to be successful, to find a mate, to be a good woman. And I was, and am, and we all are doing our best to love and be loved in this life in our western culture.
But the falling out of that myth was the best thing that ever happened to me. I fell into my own hell, my own visit to the Underworld, through divorce and abandonment, suffering and depression. This helped me break the cord to that male-dominated culture, and deepen and expand my curiosity to find another path. I have been seeking an authentic path for me as a woman.
The real question is, how did I find my path out and up? What was significant about my Grief Journey that helped me find the power of my feminine gifts? What are these feminine gifts and how do they serve me? How does The Goddess help me and you to bring balance and essence back into our lives?
The Goddess, as I am learning from many scholars, brings together all polarities and differences into a oneness of life: She gives life and she takes life away. She is Rebirth. She is the ebb and flow of life -the creative life force. She is often represented in the framework of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Later analysis shows 4 stages: The Mother, The Daughter, The Lover, The Crone. (Monaghan, Patricia, The Goddess Path, 1999) I am especially grateful to Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard’s book The Women’s Wheel of Life (4th Edition 2012) where they expand these phases to correspond to Native American and other spiritual traditions of the 4 directions/seasons representing a circle rather than a cross, a symbol bringing together opposites. The Maiden (Spring) The Mother (Summer) The Matriarch (Queen of the Autumn) The Crone (Winter). This allows for more female developmental phases especially between mothering and the crone phase which I call “midlife.”
I believe these different feminine archetypes are very helpful as we move through midlife challenges that are opportunities to reconstruct our meaning and purpose as women in our culture in crisis today. When we begin to embody the feminine in our practices, our daily lives, we can begin to discover answers to some of the deepest questions facing our world today. Great female teachers (Crones) of our time such as Joanna Macy and Roshi Joan Halifax are showing us the feminine tools for guiding our humanity into and through the polycrisis we are facing today: Climate crisis, social justice crisis, moral & spiritual crisis, etc. These tools are the same for all healing: Deep Listening, Receptivity, Surrender, Not Knowing, Deep Rootedness, Attunement, Compassion, Connectedness. The mystery of not knowing and being in the darkness is the place where we must go in order to re-balance ourselves and heal. The Goddess shows us the path inward.
One of my teachers, Deborah Eden Tull writes: “I believe that our fear of the human underworld—the dark place within us—is actually fear of authentic power. My experience is that when we go deep down into our bodies and the innermost caverns of our psychological-emotional underworld, alchemical healing is made possible… our inner light is often revealed to us deep in the trenches of our emotional and psychological depths.”(p. 56, Luminous Darkness). It is in the exploration of the darkness, the willingness to turn towards what is uncomfortable and difficult, that we discover our authenticity and power through deep transformation.
The Goddess gives us the tools to move through our vulnerability and messiness to find a newer, more resilient and alive woman on the other side. Then we are ready to do the work we are destined to do now to heal our lives and our world.