I just finished an amazing book. “Red, Hot, and Holy,” is a front row center seat to author Sera Beak’s irreverent, heretical, no-holds barred diary/personal roadmap/”red”print of her recruitment, induction, and pledge process into the ultimate sorority, “Sisterhood of the Soul.”
Beak regales the reader with an uncensored account of her often bawdy and soulful initiation into the underground association of the Divine Feminine. (For a description of Divine Masculine vs. Divine Feminine, click here.) Although my tumultuous pilgrimage into my own repressed Divine Feminine is far from a carbon copy of Beak’s, I recognize a kindred soul when I see one.
For almost thirty years I’ve wrestled with the dichotomy within me, trying to resurrect my Feminine, bring Her up to speed, and get my seeming arch enemies, the masculine* and the Feminine, to reconcile and to play nicely. Not surprisingly, my masculine isn’t too keen on equality, endlessly asserting his smug superiority. Even now, as I wade into the messy and circuitous writing process of the Feminine, I encounter strong resistance.
She says, “Follow me, Jill, it’s ok that I’m not linear.”
“Yes, that feels right,” I murmur, and heave a massive sigh that releases my resistance to moving outside my comfort zone. Immediately, my masculine admonishes me for attempting to write several blog entries simultaneously, segueing from one to another as my soul moves me.
“What’s wrong with you?” taunts my Inner Patriarch. “You’re blowing this, Jill. You need to write one blog entry at a time. That’s the prescribed way, not this confusing meandering. None of them will be any good. Finish one and then begin the next.
“Your web designer wants three blog entries for your meeting on Thursday. It’s Sunday. At the rate you’re going, you’ll only have one. How will that look? What is he going to think of you?”
“Trust me,” She whispers. So tempting, but my early intellect-centric, intuition-denouncing indoctrination isn’t easy to forgo.
The messages I received as a child made me feel that, as a girl, I would never amount to much, that the Feminine was on this earth to serve the masculine. “Jill,” my dad used to say, “You need to find a man to take care of you.” When it came to a finances and money matters, it was a men only club. No women allowed, not even my mother. A setup for repeated failure, it continued to reinforce my ineptitude, until one day, I decided to flip the script.
I returned to college at the age of forty-five. I completed a B.A. and went on to earn a doctorate in Organizational Psychology at fifty-one.
I follow Her lead. It feels true. Holy Mother of God. My masculine makes another pass at bullying my Feminine into submission.
“My way or the highway, honey.” In the past, those words would have stopped me in my tracks.
“’Scuse me, boyfriend,” She counters, “but your way ain’t been working so well lately. Nothing inspired to show for it.”
This time, thanks to Beak’s inspiration, I refuse to submit, to knuckle under and sacrifice my newfound, budding confidence in the ways of the Feminine. I feel giddy, as if I’ve broken through a once unbreachable logjam.
Putting Herself out there even further, my Feminine Soul continues. “Will the time ever come when we two can work together? I’m envisioning your macho mojo not as power over, but in concert with my creativity, kind of the wind beneath my wings.”
The deeper into Beak’s mystical journey I delved, the more her successes lit up my inner Feminine circuitry like a Christmas tree. The energy swirling inside me was qualitatively different. What I had previously intellectualized was now coursing through my body.
Suddenly I’m thrust back twenty-three years. Out of the blue, my boyfriend of several years throws up his hands and spits out, “I can’t take it anymore. You analyze everything . . .even love. You don’t have a clue how to relate with feelings. You don’t have one ounce of feminine energy. I’ve had it. This is over!”
Stunned and shocked, I had no clue how to respond other than a puzzled look and tears. Boris might as well have been speaking a foreign language. But, what would you expect from me, the daughter of a man who signed his love letters from Harvard Business School to my mother, “Please be advised, I love you!”
Months later, in therapy with Paul, my iconoclastic therapist/healer, a man with an extraordinarily well-developed feminine side, I ask a really dumb question. “What do I have to do to develop my Feminine? What steps do I need to take? I need a plan.”
Paul laughs, “You can’t DO the Feminine, Jill. She’s that still small voice within. You can’t hear Her if you’re on overdrive. She doesn’t arrive on your schedule. She unfurls Herself, sometimes meandering and sometimes in a flash flood. She’s kinesthetic, not intellectual.
“You want to try an experiment, Jill?”
“Like . . .?” I responded warily.
“I want you to begin feeling truth in your body.”
“Huh?” I said, eyeing Paul skeptically.
“The body doesn’t lie, Jill.
“You live in your mind. When you pose a question with your mind and then answer it with your mind, it creates a conflict of interest. Your ego needs your mind to be right. How about letting your body answer the questions?”
Paul watched my gears turning, struggling to understand what he was telling me.
“Stop trying to make sense of what I’m saying with your mind. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Just sit back, close your eyes, and take a couple of deep breaths.
I gave up struggling to fit what Paul was telling me into the limited box of my mind, and did as he suggested, all the while convinced I would fail this exercise.
“Do you have hazel eyes, Jill?”
I felt a rush of energy in my throat. “Oh my God,” I exclaimed as my eyes flew open. “I felt it. I felt it in my throat,” I screeched.
“That’s where you feel ‘yes,’ Jill. Now close your eyes again.”
Taking another deep breath, I excitedly awaited Paul’s question.
“Are you married, Jill?”
A dense feeling pervaded my gut. “Wow, that’s amazing.”
“Jill, my goal here is to get you to a place where you don’t need me for your answers . . . you can be your own therapist. To do that, you have to make your unconscious conscious. Otherwise, it runs your life. People push your buttons. You react. But that reaction is actually triggered by your history.
“Someone criticizes you, and you’re a child again. It’s really your father criticizing you, or your mother playing favorites, and you’re not the favorite.
“To separate the past from the present, you have to get in touch with your feelings. They’re not in your head.” Paul stood up and pointed to his chest, “They’re here . . . in your body.”
I stared at Paul, nonplussed. I heard him. What he said rang a bell. I can’t honestly say that it felt true. I wasn’t there yet. Accompanied by that ring of truth, however, was an uncomfortable tightness in my chest. I started to cry.
“What are you feeling, Jill? Paul gently asked as he held out a box of Kleenex.
Sniffling, I grabbed a couple of tissues, and blew my nose. “I . . .know you’re . . . right.” Managing to get out a few more words between my ensuing sobs, I described the physical sensations in my chest. “But . . . I’m terrified. What’s wrong with me?” I wailed.
“Jill, detaching from your feelings was one of your survival mechanisms. Your parents criticized you for your feelings, invalidated them.” Paul had risen from the futon again and was almost shouting, eyes ablaze. “It was dangerous for you to have feelings. Of course, you’re scared.”
It was a process. It still is. A significant number of women today don’t even know what we don’t know. Even fewer men do, although the younger generations are more in tune with their Feminine.
Resurrecting Her entails questioning all the ingrained ways we operate in the world, many of which we take for granted.
As a culture, we’re immersed and schooled in the masculine, action and results-oriented, analytic, scientific, fact-based, rational, logical, literal, power over, competitive, strategic, structured, macho, success-oriented, confrontational—you get the picture. The Feminine is process and relationship-oriented, intuitive, nurturing, co-operative, contemplative, visionary, creative, receptive, feeling, heart-based, vulnerable, and holistically-oriented. (I want to emphasize that feminine and masculine is not the same as male and female. The former are attributes while the latter delineate gender).
Beak’s book and the proliferation of others dealing with the Divine Feminine soul as differentiated from the Divine masculine spirit are raising the awareness of the differences and the need for a resurrection of the repressed Feminine. It has also become more evident that the masculine has defined, evaluated, and imbued the Feminine with meanings not of their own making.
Daniel Matt, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Jewish mysticism and the Zohar, the ancient mystical text on which Kabbalah is based, offers an alternative hypothesis to the traditional story of Adam and Eve, and the repressed and exiled Feminine that so many of us are currently struggling to embody and voice.
In the popular version of creation, Bad Eve takes a serpent-inspired bite of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whereupon God banishes them both from the Garden of Eden. For Eve, it marks the beginning of male supremacy and female subservience. Oh, and don’t forget the intense, painful childbirth.
Add to that the story of Lilith, Adam’s first wife, his equal in all ways, who refused to be ordered around and forever assume the missionary position. She, too, was banished and got a bad rep for all her rebelliousness, and all kinds of evil attributed to her. In “God and the Big Bang,” Matt writes, “Clearly, the Kabbalistic image of Shekhinah [the feminine indwelling presence of God] is a masculine product, fashioned by men for men.”
Matt’s radical theory shattered everything I had previously been taught about Adam and Eve. He raises the question of whether God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden, or did they expel God? Convincingly, Matt points out that the two ate only from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and not from the Tree of Life. Since together, the two trees represent the masculine and feminine, by not eating from both trees, the dynamic duo essentially uncoupled the two halves of God and disrupted the Divine/human connection.
“Adam divorced himself from the feminine, a mistake his male descendants have repeated ever since and only recently begun to realize,” Matt asserts. Humankind’s Divine mission, according to Matt, is to repair the inner breech. It is one facet of Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew directive to reclaim the Feminine and repair the world by re-pairing ourselves.
The world is out of balance, skewed toward emphasizing the masculine. In our rush to succeed, part of us remains underdeveloped. We lose sight of the part of us that needs to be, to listen to God instead of just asking him for stuff. The masculine emphasis on winning at all costs, the end justifies the means, and a zero-sum orientation completely lacking in empathy and concern for one another, has resulted in an utterly polarized world. Sitting and contemplating, doing nothing but listening for and to our Divine Feminine is devalued in our society where over-achievement is the gold standard.
Reading Beak’s book took me deeper into my Feminine where I realized I have severely reined Her in, fearful that the past would repeat itself, and trouble would find me again if I expressed myself through Her voice.
I refuse to strangle Her anymore. I invite you to join me as I shape shift into the full expression of my Feminine Soul and Her eventual full partnership with my Masculine spirit.
* I wrestled with caps for the masculine. But my Feminine, tired of lifetimes of bullying decided to knock him down bit.