There is a dark side to our culture’s affinity for the hero’s journey that stems from a mistaken elevation of the masculine over the feminine. This is not about gender; both women and men participate in and are affected by this bias. It shows up as a preference for control rather than adaptation, for rational knowing over intuition, for answers instead of mystery, and separation in place of connection. Writ large, these ways of being do great damage.
A quite sane response, then, is the yearning to reconnect with the feminine. Sounds simple enough, yet since most of the weight of our culture is skewed in the opposite direction, it often requires conscious choice, if not effort. It’s also subversive and generally frowned upon. An interesting aspect of being on the threshold between stories is that we feel this pull in two different directions, all the time.
This reconnection with the feminine is in a sense a “heroine’s journey,” as outlined by Maureen Murdock in her book of the same name. She details a cycle of steps, many similar to the hero’s journey, some unique to the experience of women in our patriarchal culture. In her cycle, reconnecting with the feminine comes after a perilous and life-altering descent into a mythic underworld (in the form of depression, loss, illness, or a mix of these).
Yesterday I wrote about becoming reacquainted with mythic dimensions of story. Here are some other ways I have been exploring to heal my separation from the feminine values of the creative and nurturing, even the irrational and unknowable.
Nature-based soul work, a form of numinous connection and listening to the voices of our brothers and sisters, the streams, trees, and animals, can be very healing, even encouraging, after a descent into grief and despair about the state of the planet. Two-way conversations are quite possible and always surprising.
A daily journaling practice opens the doors of creativity and intuition, expanding perception and helping me feel I am not alone.
Learning poems by heart is a beautiful way of being with imagery and language that is more evocative than it is descriptive, leaving space for imagination.
Slowing down has many emotional and psychological benefits that are being studied by science. This is a challenging one in our culture that is so addicted to speed and busyness.
The arts nurture imagination and generally allow me to do things that feel good. I can usually get in a space of focus and contentment that calms me down in a lasting way.
Caring for and reveling in my body and sensory experiences. The summer after my mother died, I took a lot of very long baths. Yoga, especially, has helped me to appreciate the container of my body as a form of intelligence and a powerful ally.
Dreamwork attends to the strange nighttime world of symbol, where every character and place in the dream is a part of the dreamer. I work with two friends who see dreams as both mirror and lamp, which always leads to great insights for all of us – no matter whose dream it is. A wise person once said, “An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter from your soul.”
I’ve just begun learning about ritual and ceremony, as a form of ongoing connection with and honoring the unseen aspects of the natural world. Since these have been an integral part of all human civilizations until very recently, I’m willing to give it a try.
We’ve all experienced the failure of the stories of rationality and control to prevent strange or devastating occurrences, both personally and on larger scales. Yet these events have opened (in some cases, driven) me to experiment with intuition, to give myself permission to make art and music, to become more intimate with and appreciative of my own body. In short, to trust the stirrings of the divine feminine that is awakening, both within my own soul, and at a vast scale of planet and universe that I cannot begin to fathom. I will continue to trust this calling that has brought such rich gifts of connection, new friendships, and joy.