The Divine Feminine has regained its importance in the global arena of spiritual awakening. While western countries are seeing a steady collapse of patriarchal religious systems, women in eastern nations are also fighting against their rampant rape and abuse. What we truly need is to awaken the goddess within ourselves as the divine feminine or creative power in each one of us, regardless of gender or belief. Here are a few ways we can achieve that.
- Goddess as Empowered Feminine and not just Idols: Hordes of people in many states of India immerse larger than life goddess idols in water to celebrate Navratri each year after praying to these idols including Saraswati, Laxmi, Kali and the nine forms of Durga, in the hope of wish-fulfillment for career, relationships, protection and so on. It is indeed ironic that India is also a country notorious for rape and domestic abuse as depicted in the awareness campaign through images commissioned by Save the Children and Save the Sisters. Instead of merely worshiping the goddess as a celestial or heavenly figure of religious belief, we can begin to see the goddess as nature and the power within all of us. When we flood our eco-system with garbage including idols in water-bodies we are not really serving the goddess or pleasing the divine feminine in any manner. Depictions of the goddess too need to transform to those that are self-empowering and not merely based on cultural stereotypes of domesticated feminine. (Img courtesy India Today).
- Acceptance of Menstruation and Feminine Physiology: The idea of feminine periodic cycles and reproductive process as something painful or shameful has been promoted in western texts such as the Bible where God is said to have denounced women as ‘unclean’ during periods and cursed Eve with labor pain. However the practice of regarding women as unclean during menstruation has been followed even in temples of India and Thailand. Male and female devotees of lord Ayappa have been vehemently protesting the supreme court verdict allowing females of menstrual age to visit the Sabrimala temple in Kerala, India. Some stories describe how the celibate lord could be ‘distracted’ by menstrual women between 10 to 50 years of age in order to keep menstruating women away, while some people in India believe menstruation to be impure as a basis of the restriction upon female visitors to many temples. There is a temple dedicated to worship of ‘the bleeding goddess’ Kamakhya in Assam, India, where ironically women are not allowed to enter during periods. Perhaps women should simply reject such systems that condone their menstruation by respecting themselves and nature as divine.
- Virginity versus Higher Consciousness: The notion that a woman is holiest when she is a virgin is popularized in most patriarchal faiths, especially the Bible that notes that the Son of God was born miraculously of the ‘sinless’ Virgin Mary. Feminine sexuality and sinfulness might have been equated in such faiths, however virginity is also highly desirable when it comes to sex and marriage with the Koran promising male Muslim faithfuls the pleasures of ravenous mating with several virgins in heaven, and the Bible being replete with references of very young virgins being sought after for marriage. In-fact a woman accused of not being a virgin at the time of marriage could be stoned to death according to Deuteronomy 22:13 by the men of the city if her parents could not produce evidence in front of the elders at the city gates of blood collected from the hymen on a cloth after the first night of intercourse. These archaic notions that prize a woman’s virginity as if she were an object of sexual consumption and treat her as ‘defiled’ if not a virgin need to have no place in society with focus instead on inner awakening and higher consciousness for both men and women as equals.
- Shiva-Shakti as Consciousness within us: Shiva is traditionally shown as the ultimate super-consciousness and creator yet visualized primarily in masculine form. The feminine as ‘his Shakti’ or power of nature whom Shiva controls like the Ganges in his hair is sometimes seen as the outer universe and not as higher consciousness. In ancient texts such as Vigyan Bhairava Tantra, lord Bhairava gives his gems of superior cosmic knowledge to the goddess Bhairavi to clear her ‘doubts’. Images such as these seem to promote a belief that feminine is usually the unconscious, receptive, passive or submissive self who needs to ‘respect’ the masculine and learn from masculine versions of god. Masculine superiority in the garb of tantra can often lead to sexual exploitation of female disciples in the name of ‘shakti’ while male gurus become the powerful ‘shiva’ figures of today. We need more female gurus as enlightened masters guiding our world into ascension, so that the feminine is not seen only as the phallus worshiping ‘sexual energy’ in tantra but as the super-consciousness within us. We need to be our own Shiva and our own Shakti regardless of the gender we were born in, instead of confirming to divine masculine or feminine stereotypes.
- Independent Women and not merely Devoted Wife: In many images Mahalaxmi is depicted as massaging the feet of Mahavishnu as he sleeps and dreams up the universes. Goddesses such as Sita and Sati have burnt in fire to prove their love and purity to their husbands in this complex religious matrix that exonerates the image of ‘sati-savitri’ (virtuous wife) who regard husbands as ‘pati-parmeshwar’ (supreme lord). Religious images seem to confirm the notion of a devoted wife and mother who serves her master or lord with utmost sincerity. Few would depict the goddess as a self-realized master of herself. Independence and free will are not always a virtue of the goddesses who have been used to receiving roles of carers, supporters and consorts. We need to transform the image of the feminine to one of true inner power and personal independence. (Img http://www.hinduwebsite.com)
- Female Masters and not just Masculine Gurus: Images of male yogis, masters, sadhus, high-profile gurus, and saints, adorn our timelines with fewer feminine figures in the limelight. Men with beards, turbans and saffron robes are always in the forefront leading thousands of people in ‘satsangas’ and meditation groups. Women while being leaders in every professional front are yet to be seen as ‘gurus’ in major ways, although there are many who might be coming to the forefront slowly, yet most of these have been disciples and devotees of male gurus.
- Feminine Depictions of Angels and Ascended Masters: We are used to seeing a lot of masculine ascended masters in literature and published works, including names such as Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mahavtar Babaji and the ‘great white brotherhood’ of the new-age including Sananda, Ashtar and Sanat Kumara with the female masters being primarily Mother Mary and a few feminine deities of mythology. Similarly Archangels are usually depicted as male with feminine twin-flames for some of the qualities and traits they resonate with, for example Archangel Michael with Archeia Faith. Instead we need to see Angels and Archangels as gender-free energies of our higher self and the Archeias as their inner qualities that help us awaken to the higher levels of consciousness. We need to recognize ascended masters as our ascended self regardless of gender by seeing them in either masculine or feminine forms instead of as primarily male, for example we can envision Buddha or Christ energy in female form too.