The Four "A"s
If you’ve been following the winding path of my blog and videos starting this January 2023 I’ve declared that I’m on a “stay at home” pilgrimage. I’m studying and learning about the sacred feminine. I’m going to continue with this theme until either the enormity of the task does me in (quite possible) or completely overwhelms me (more than likely!) – or until it leads me to…well, who knows? (This is truly a journey into the unknown.) I’ve invited you to come along. Thank you for being here. I hope we’ll all learn something.
The breadcrumbs keep coming. (I’ve used the tale of Hansel and Gretel finding their way back home by the breadcrumbs they left – as a metaphor for what I’m doing.) I’ve declared that I’m on an armchair-traveler sort of journey to discover (understand) the sacred feminine. I’m finding my way breadcrumb by breadcrumb. A scholar well-versed in how to do research would have mapped out a plan, and an outline of how best to go about this exploration.
An Unscientific (Very Peripatetic) Exploration
I announced to the Universe that I was doing this and waited for breadcrumbs. And they’re arriving and they’re leading me. I’m learning but at some point, I’ll have to gather the breadcrumbs and bake the bread…make sense of it all – but I’m not there yet.
In all transparency, this has been a goal of mine for some time – to uncover what is this thing called the divine or sacred feminine. To that end, I have collected a shelf full of books to guide me. This is my first stab at assimilating a least a bit of all the knowledge they contain! I’ll include the list at the end of this blog.
Now, let me quickly check-in — with myself. What’s driving me? In January I introduced this as a call, a call to learn more about this thing called the sacred feminine. You might be wondering, “Susanna, I thought you were about the Heroine’s Journey. Why diverge?”
Yes, indeed, that has been my focus since I first learned the journey archetype in 2007. This study I’ve embarked upon is about how to walk on this journey path. My awareness has been raised (Be forewarned, this is a typical result of a heroine’s journey.) and I have an inner urge to learn about this. I know how it affects how I live as my heroine-self and how I treat the very connected world I’m privileged to live in.
Many access points beget overwhelm.
Two months in I’m seeing different access points to understanding the sacred feminine:
- Some writers talk about it in relation to our planet, to the land – that this earth connection is a major piece of our “lost feminine.”
- Some talk about it as our “lost goddess,” more in relation to religion.
- Then there’s the examination of qualities or actions that define the nature of the feminine.
- And I’m sure there’s more!
I see them all as different entry points into learning about the sacred feminine and where she (it?) can be found. I realize I could approach the topic using any of these portals: the earth, religion, or by examining what are regarded to be the more feminine qualities. But which one?
When I was talking about this with my Congregational minister, Bill, he reminded me of the Shekinah, part of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah. I know he had spoken of it before, but I needed to learn more. Anne Baring, whose book, The Dream of the Cosmos, is becoming sort of my travel guide for this “trip” (well, one of them!) writes that the Shekinah…
“…offers the most complete image of the feminine aspect of spirit to have survived from the ancient past. She restores the missing connective cosmology of the soul that the three major patriarchal religions, in their repudiation of a feminine dimension of the divine, had lost.”
She explains further that Shekinah literally means the presence of God in the world. (She references “the great Jewish scholar, Gershom Scholem.”) She then connects the Shekinah to the same concept as Plato’s in the Anima Mundi and to the goddess Isis in Egypt, to Sophia or Divine Wisdom in Christian times, and to the voice of Divine Wisdom and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Proverbs, the Wisdom Books of the Apocrypha and to the Gnostic texts discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. She further illustrates that this feminine aspect of the divine has been talked about throughout history, in different areas of the world and in different religions
I may have lost you. I may very well be lost. Another benefit of armchair travel is the ease of getting up and finding something else to do when one gets lost (like maybe going for a cup of tea and doing today’s Wordle). I think I need to find the exit ramp soon before I’m overcome by all these portals – and you’re overcome by this blog post.
I’m certainly not ready to make bread from my breadcrumbs yet. But suffice it to say, it seems to me the divine feminine is alive and well – but not as visible as the masculine. Maybe she’s just under the surface waiting for us to link arms with her and bring her up to the front of the line. And I hear you, you daily walkers into Mother Nature… “Just get out there and take a walk and you’ll meet the divine feminine face-to-face!” I do believe that and I believe the natural world is begging to be reunited with us. (See my earlier posts where I reference Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and The Enchanted Life by Sharon Blackie. They are nature access point women.)
One More Breadcrumb
The breadcrumb I got this week was from Jessie Graham, one of the real-life heroines whom I’m journeying with through my work on the Heroine’s Journey. She shared a February 13th, 2023 article that Deepak Chopra wrote for Medium, The Eternal Feminine is a Healer. I was delighted to find that he was espousing a return to what he calls, The Eternal Feminine. (Can we say that the Sacred Feminine, the Divine Feminine, and the Eternal Feminine are the same – I think so.) (And I’m not even going to go into the question of whether I should be capitalizing these terms or not…maybe in another blog.)
Chopra uses the portal of describing "the aspect" or the qualities of the eternal feminine. This might be my avenue in, at least for now – it does help me understand it better.
Chopra tells us that “the eternal feminine needs to be recaptured.” He associates the aspect of the eternal feminine with these words: loving, peaceful, forgiving, warm, tolerant, harmonious, and heartfelt.
He says that the feminine connotation of these words crosses social, gender, and national lines – that they are innate in human awareness. They are not “mind-made” and to access them you need to bring in feminine energy – no matter who you are.
He calls the practical aspects of feminine energy the “four As” - appreciation, affection, acceptance, and allowing. I love this because it gives us something that’s actionable. Yes, I can practice doing more of the four As.
He talks about a healthy balance between the masculine and the feminine aspects and he identifies “the masculine” as what has had predominance for eons - “the era of masculine dominance, which goes back to prehistoric times, has not benefitted men, who are as damaged by war, violence, and lack of love as women are. The masculine energy arc has not reached a state of exhaustion, which I think is felt quite widely. Brute force, physical strength, and aggression are masculine energies that once had survival value.”
When I worked several years ago as a manager in a large corporation I believed in leading with what I identify as more feminine values but I was criticized as being “too nice” in my evaluation. I remember thinking “too nice” had never been a problem for me – and still wasn’t – because I could always accomplish what I needed to by what they called “being nice.”
To me, it was the best way to make things happen – and it still is. It brought success, collaboration, and mutual respect. But that patriarchal, hierarchical organization where so many leaders were formerly in the military, had a different view of leadership. Back then it was top-down and directive. Leaders didn’t want to be seen as “too nice” because it made one appear weak.
At the end of his essay Chopra advises us to become a “unit of healing in your own life” – to solve the huge problems our civilization faces, he proposes we “put into practice the feminine qualities that are the only avenue toward inner wholeness and balance.”
Just what are these qualities?
Here are those words that Chopra says are associated with the eternal feminine energies: loving, peaceful, forgiving, warm, tolerant, harmonious, and heartfelt.
And the 4 As – practical applications. He urges us to practice doing these more: appreciation, affection, acceptance, and allowing.
Just think about it – if each of us let our feminine qualities out more - how would it affect our own personal masculine-feminine energy balance and then ripple out to the balance of those around us?
Here is something I can do – work on being more of these healing energies. Starting small, working on myself. Those around me will feel them and maybe be encouraged to do the same.
I do believe that this process of encouraging the rise of feminine qualities in all humans, regardless of social, gender, and national lines will help us get there.
I was going to say let’s let these words be our “call to arms” – but no, - no arms needed if we practice the mantra of the feminine qualities of …
appreciation, affection, acceptance, and allowing.
Thank you for reading and as always, I welcome your comments.
Here’s some (I’ll start with ten.) of what’s waiting on my bookshelf. Please share what you think I should be adding to this.:
- Anderson & Hopkins, The Feminine Face of God
- Baring and Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess, Evolution of an Image
- Markale, Jean, The Great Goddess
- Markale, Jean, Cathedral of the Black Madonna
- Murdock, Maureen, The Heroine’s Journey
- Norton & Starbird, 14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine
- Pagels, Elaine – The Gnostic Gospels
- Pearson, Carol S., Persephone Rising
- Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess
- Tate, Karen, Sacred Places of Goddess, 108 Destinations