Originally published in Aontacht Magazine, December 2011
Over the last two centuries there has been a gradual re-emergence of the feminine in modern human society. This began very slowly and gently and has gathered great pace in the last hundred years, the last fifty especially. With this revitalizing of women has also come the revitalizing of the many faces of the goddess – the divine feminine.
This is a wonderful development and long overdue after millennia of patriarchal society that has brought humanity and the planet to the edge of collapse. This necessary development has empowered women but unfortunately it does not seem to have done the same for men. Instead of welcoming this change from a position of inner strength and self-knowledge many men have reacted by becoming more aggressive or by becoming overly passive. What the feminine renaissance has clearly demonstrated is something that is not often highlighted - the fact that men too need a renaissance, but one of a very different kind.
Maleness has been hugely damaged by such a long period of negative role models, abuse of each other, the planet and a failure to deal honestly with the inner life. That the masculine in humanity is degraded is undeniable, but simply embracing the re-emergent feminine energy alone is simply not enough to heal men. Men comprise roughly half of humanity, and by extension if men cannot also re-find a place in the world, humanity will remain damaged as a whole.
The re-emergence of the goddess is vital to re-dress the terrible imbalance of the past, however I believe that ultimately we have to find a path to re-uniting the god and goddess and man and woman as equals in a way that will bring harmony. From looking at ancient forms of religion it is clear that there was a dynamic beyond patriarchy or matriarchy – a form of spirituality that embraced both.
In the earliest form of Judaism there were two gods – male and female, although at some point the goddess became forgotten. From Egypt, Ra and Isis are known today as the god of the sun/creation and goddess of the earth respectively. Less familiar to most are their opposite gender counterparts – Nut, goddess of the sky who enrages Ra but later assists him, and also Geb – Nut’s brother, father of Isis and also god of the Earth. In Irish mythology we also see overlapping deities – Grainne, the solar goddess and Lugh, the solar god; Morrigan, goddess of war and death, Donn – god of death. In Hindu culture each god has a female consort, from whom his power emanates, for instance the god Shiva’s creative force is embodied as the goddess Shakti. Looking now at Taoism, the Yin/Yang symbol succinctly depicts the intertwining of the divine male and female energies to create a whole. It is interesting also to note that the very centre of the black half is white and the very centre of the white half is black – simply demonstrating that aspects of the one are contained in the other.
There are probably many more examples of this type of duality, a double polarized but non-linear relationship between dark and light, female and male, goddess and god. Unfortunately despite the fact that this model of deity still exists it seems to be largely ignored or forgotten by most men and women. It is interesting to note that this spiritual energy is embedded in the fabric in the universe in what physicists call the torus energy – two half spheres meeting but apparently externally not connected, however they are connected internally through a central vortex. This energy form is found in the atom, an orange, a human aura, the earth’s magnetic field, the sun’s energy flows and even in the structure of galaxies. Even more startling is the fact that this energy matrix was depicted in the temples of the ancients, indicating that they knew of it’s existence, perhaps not in terms of physics but certainly as a spiritual principle.
Although women are undoubtedly regaining their power, many men appear to be lost in hostility or have capitulated to such an extent that they have lost their own power. Just as polarization towards male energy was and is dangerous, I think that a polarization towards female energy could be differently but equally disastrous.
However, it is not for women to rediscover what the divine masculine should be or what maleness really is. It has often been said that girls grow up to be women but that boys do not necessarily grow up to be men. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly - men need a second birth. This second birth in older cultures took the form of an initiation into adulthood if you will, otherwise the boy often remains the perpetual child.
Just as women have had to strive to re-establish themselves over time, most often with the objection of men, men themselves need to wake up to the fact that they were already lost long before women had the confidence to point that out. Embracing the feminine in women and also the feminine side within men is an essential part of the healing process. Beyond that, it is also necessary for men to rediscover their maleness and the true virtues of the god energy. Without positive male role models that process is very difficult and often leads to the maturing of men in mid-life or sometimes not at all.
Although women should be critical of men’s inadequacies, it is not always constructive. It is the initiated man, the elder, the man who knows himself who should be the one to take younger men aside and show them what it really means to be a man, in cooperation rather than in conflict with women. In order for many men to acquire that knowledge in a world of corrupted male leaders and negative role models it is often necessary for men to undergo a soul destroying ordeal, a divine dismemberment if you will; an event shown in myth by the death and rebirth of Osiris. Life can be a hard teacher and without an appropriate teacher, men are forced to learn maturity the hard way – usually much later than their female counterparts. Hence it is a real necessity for men who understand what real male strength is to ‘break-in’ boys and young men, which will save them and the people they touch from the damage done by a perpetual child who is masquerading as an adult.
Ultimately both men and women have to undergo spiritual alchemy – the resolution of the many parts known and unknown within ourselves – male and female, our shadow self, our Ego etc. The first step in discovering the philosopher’s stone or metaphysically turning base metal into gold is the acknowledgement that we must undertake that journey of integration and self-discovery.
It seems to me that far more than men, women have ‘stepped up to the plate’ and are willing to explore a new and more healthy dynamic in human interaction. Now is the time for men also to ‘step up to the plate’, not submissively or disgruntled, but fully engaged in the process of understanding what it means to be human and what we are all here to do. If life can be described as a dance, then it really does take two to tango, whether that means finding a life partner, learning to relate to others or integrating aspects of the opposite sex into our own psyche.
It is my feeling that only through healing the rifts between men and women, re-uniting the god and goddess, can we save ourselves from an endless cycle of imbalance and perhaps even extinction. One can only hope that each of us will find the divine spirit in ourselves to make sure that equilibrium with one another and creation as a whole becomes our new reality.