Women and Power

Yesterday, 8th March, was International Women’s Day.  We all know about it, we’ve all heard of it but what are its origins?  How come there is such a day?  A day that is officially celebrated in countries such as Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Mongolia, Turkey, Uganda, Russia, Vietnam, Zambia and elsewhere.  There are no western European countries on the list  and nor is America on the list , (a list supplied by the internationalwomensday.com web site) which strikes me as rather strange.

At the beginning of the 20th century women around the world who were being  exploited in low paid jobs and who had only limited opportunities marched and/or went on strike to draw attention to the inequality of their time.  In 1917 , in Russia, women campaigning for peace and for an end to the 1st World War marched and went on strike for four days until the government acceded and allowed them the right to vote.  They were joining with women in New Zealand, Australia, Armenia and Latvia who already had this right.

One hundred years ago women HAD to campaign for better working conditions and better pay and it seems that despite one hundred years of legislation, many women still have this battle to face. Apparently, the UK has just announced that self-employed women will no longer be able to access Maternity benefits!!!???  This tends to be the case in the U.S as well – maternity benefit being down to the whim of the employer.   Despite the statement that IWD celebrates the “social, economic, cultural and political achievements” of women,  how does this transfer to ordinary women?  I am concerned that this annual celebration is very narrow in its focus. I am NOT saying, but I AM questioning if the definition of women’s success is based on how well they succeed in a man’s world.  It is absolutely brilliant that women are now CEOs, are involved in politics or are top athletes – no doubt about it.  However, I would ask what about celebrating the ordinary woman who is not high achieving on these terms?

I know it sounds old-fashioned – but what about celebrating women as creators of life?  For simply being a mother?  Yes, we have Mother’s Day, (which is purely commercial) but it does not champion  the bond between a mother and her child.  A majority of women are made to feel like pariahs if they do not go straight back to work; if they do not leave their child with strangers and pretend it is normal; if they feel sad and stressed about this.  Surely in a civilised society we should know the importance of the role of the mother and how beneficial it is to both mother and child to have time together.  Not every woman is ambitious in the work place – many being there for economic reasons only – and I think that to place so much emphasis upon women being in the workplace  rather than upon their caring for their young children is to denigrate this role.

Equality is a fine goal to strive for – I definitely agree that everyone,  – regardless of gender, race, religion, age, ethnicity, – should receive the same treatment, opportunities and courtesies under the Law.  I also believe in Equity which brings a different aspect to women’s rights.  Equity is defined as being fair and just, impartial and free from bias.  Do women really want to be treated exactly like men?  Is it fair that new mothers must return to work?  Is it right that women who work creatively or domestically or who do a type of work that is not seen to have an economic value should be viewed as inferior or as pariahs?

What is women’s role?  Why are we different to men?  Should we celebrate that difference or should we strive to become more like men?  I am not au fait with current feminist thought and philosophy, I am simply musing here; but I believe that the whole notion of Equality means we should all be celebrating our differences and yet enjoy equity for all.  Equality and equity of respect for women has been necessary for a very long time.  Do we know why there has been and is such imbalance in this area?

I (respectively) suggest that a fear of women’s power was inculcated by various religious leaders of all types throughout history.  Women, with their more emotional bodies and their intuition and their ability to bring forth life were seen to be as wild and as unpredictable as Nature  herself  –  Nature that was feared as being powerful and that had to be placated and appeased and controlled.  One way to control women was to denigrate their work.  Spinners for example, according to Max Dachau, were used to working together , chanting over their work; calling on the unseen powers of the Universe as they created cloth and garments.  Their chanting, in the ears of religious men,  (men disconnected from the Earth), became enchanting, thus making those women dangerous and, in later centuries, not just dangerous but witches and devil-worshippers.  Any domestic activity where women came together was suspect;  activities which connected  women to the Earth through their use of herbs and plants  was suspect and eventually led down through the years to the witch hunts and the many burnings of the medieval and renaissance times.  Today we use the word spinster to refer to unmarried women – those who are left on the shelf!

I am all for women being successful in business, politics, sport or wherever, although I would be happier to see more women demanding Equity and also re-connecting to the Divine Feminine.  There have been thousands of years of imbalance and the planet and people have suffered greatly because of an excess of  an imbalanced, out of control patriarchal system that is raping the planet.  It has been and unfortunately still is, a system that believes we have dominion over the natural world rather than we being the husbanders or guardians of this world.  (Interesting word, husband, as it  means to be a manager or steward.  Perhaps the fact that it also means to be married to a woman comes from ancient societies’ notions that the king should be “married” to the land which was always regarded as female.)  We cannot blame only men for this situation.  We women have stood by and let it happen.  We have been brain-washed over centuries by propaganda to believe that being female is “dirty”, “unclean”, inferior, weaker, less important, less valuable, less intelligent, less able.  We have been persuaded that we need more things to make our lives easier.  Perhaps it is no surprise that those countries that do not officially celebrate International Women’s Day are the main protagonists in destroying our environment. And nowadays, we swallow the propaganda that to succeed in a man’s world we must behave like a man.

I believe that IWD could be about encouraging women to reconnect to Mother Earth, to start growing things, to commune with Nature, to plant, plant, plant.  To  remember our role is to promote peace for people and planet, to balance the strength and action of the male with gentleness and creativity rather than accepting destruction and exploitation.  If we can only remember that our bodies are not “unclean” but are the bringers of life.  We must remember that our bodies are not “dirty” but shed blood as part of a feminine cycle that is repeated over and over and over in Nature.  It genuinely saddens me when I meet younger women who think menstruation and childbirth  are horrible, messy, unpleasant experiences they would rather not have to deal with.  This type of mindset must be changed if we want our planet to survive and if we want the pendulum that swings between masculine and feminine energies to be balanced.

Women have power.  This is true despite centuries and millenia of patriarchal propaganda.  Women and men will continue to suffer until women reclaim that power – a power that is of woman and is based on equity of mutual respect and fairness.  We can use our power to say no to exploitation, extraction, destruction and we can say no – we do not need to consume material goods at the ridiculous rates that are currently consumed.  Our power lies in our connection to Mother Earth, to being creatrixes just like her; in our respect for our own bodies and in our intuitive understanding that ALL beings are equal whether it be a man, a woman, a tree, a piece of land or an animal, a bog, lake or the ocean  Equality, Equity and respect for all stems from a woman’s power.  It is time now to reclaim it.

 

 

 

 

 

A Feminist Imperative! The Rise of The Divine Feminine.

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Christmas is coming and at this time of year I sometimes think of the Holy Mother about to give birth.  Nowadays, the Holy Mother for me is an archetype of the Divine Feminine.  I have heard this term, The Divine Feminine  in passing for the last ten years or so.  What does it mean?  Several definitions I found can all be paraphrased as follows:

The Divine Feminine is the ultimate level of feminine manifestation and expression in the universe……the Divine Feminine is the “matrix of creation”, the best of all that is feminine in all its measure, the representation of all the greatest sacred mysteries, the divine light..

 

Do we need to know about the Divine Feminine now?  Most definitely and absolutely!  For more than 2000 years we have lived under a patriarchal, masculine dominated cultural system.  Only recently, within the last 100 years here in the west, have women begun to achieve any kind of equality and it is still doubtful that we women have full equality.  However, I think it is important to understand that patriarchy and masculine values are not necessarily bad, it is just that at present the energies of masculine and feminine are out of balance.

The Divine Masculine energy is one of strength and gentleness. It should be an expression of the highest, most inspiring and truest manifestations of the masculine.  Some of its qualities are logic, adventure, action, reason and loyalty and both men and women carry these qualities.  It is the same with the Divine Feminine energy; the qualities such as creativity, compassion, intuition and wisdom are inherent to both men and women.  What has happened over the last 2000 years is that the feminine aspects have been degraded and denied, forgotten and repressed and the masculine aspects have been, in some individuals, corrupted. Consequently our society, our culture has become out of balance and the planet and her people have suffered grossly.  Strength in a person is a good thing.  When that strength extends to bullying, becoming overpowering or overbearing it is not a good thing, it has become corrupted…… and dangerous to all.

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Some women of our time have intuited the energy of the Divine Feminine but have misunderstood how to express it and have (hopefully) unwittingly expressed their feminine power in an imbalanced, patriarchal way.  Margaret Thatcher and Hilary Clinton for example, have enjoyed great power but only by playing the game as if they were men.

The Divine Feminine expresses conception, creation and birth and allows us all to participate in the greatest of sacred mysteries – bringing a soul to life in a physical body.  Due to centuries of denying this divine mystery of the feminine,  denigrating it, calling it unclean,  we are also denying our connection to Life and Love.

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This denial of the divine mystery of the feminine means we are also denying Life itself.  If we denigrate women for being the bearers of life, of our own children, then it becomes easy to denigrate Life on the planet. Plants, animals and minerals are seen at best as commodities and at worse as something to destroy and get out of our way. If we view feminine power as something to fear, we fear Nature – Mother Nature.  If we fear something we try to destroy it.  Women through the centuries have endured torture, abuse, exploitation, rape and destruction,

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and so has our planet.

destruction of landscape

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I believe that it is imperative that women come together in groups and in Circles as friends and sisters;  recharge our intuition, our compassion and our wisdom and all the qualities that we hold that are of the Divine Feminine. It is time to acknowledge that what is done to us is done to the planet, to  Mother Earth, to the Goddess; and what is done to the planet, to Mother Earth and to the Goddess is done to us.  It is time for us to use our feminine power to demonstrate that we can have a successful society that reveres women (and men) and all Life on this planet.  For the Christians amongst us it is time to extend peace and goodwill to all beings, not just to Christian men, but to all women, all men and all beings.  To mothers of sons, I implore you to educate your sons to be the best of men, to be strong but gentle, kind and wise, adventurous but stable, rational but creative and for them to know that the Divine Feminine is within them too.

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Peace and blessings to all.