Can returning to the feminine religion save the world?
Compassion, diversity, balance, joy, healing are the qualities of the feminine path: the qualities humanity needs desperately now more than ever.
There's much to be proud of what we humans have achieved. Innumerable wars, billions of lives lost, massacre, gas chambers, mass shooting of children in schools, child trafficking, global warming, animals going extinct due to human activities, body shaming resulting in anorexia, and deaths due to eating disorders, slavery, etc. Anger, hatred, and violence on one side, and fear, ignorance, and blind obedience on the other. We've evolved a bit from an angry, punitive, white-bearded god to an all-merciful, kind, offer-your-other-cheek messenger. You see any patterns there?
Long before the vengeful god gave rise to the faithful crowd, there were powerful symbols of goddesses and the feminine path to spirituality across the world. While in the West, the only traces left behind is that of an all-forgiving, gentle, mother archetype of Mary or the eroticised versions of Aphrodite, the goddess of sensual pleasures, the East has managed to keep much of the ancient symbols, myths, and practices of the feminine path alive.
What do feminine religions involve?
It is much more than replacing god with a goddess or believing the creator of the universe is Mother Nature. It cares less about external labels, norms, rules and focuses more on the inner growth. Everything is experiential and not dogmatic. You don't need to label yourself or be part of a sect or cult to follow this path. Here's why returning to the feminine path is the need of the hour.
It delights in diversity
Just as every tree, plant, animal or the earth and other elements are seen to be living embodiments of the Source, the feminine path sees people of all colors, cultures, shapes, sizes, and places as a celebration of the same Spirit. Tolerance is seen as a cheap tradeoff for acceptance. When you can celebrate people who are different from us and take delight in the differences, what's there to fight about or tolerate? This is exactly what we need right now. An open mind that not only accepts but learns from people of different backgrounds.
And, this is the perfect antidote to vested groups that promote fear and hatred toward certain groups of people based on their color, personal beliefs or sexuality.
It doesn't deny the power of the underworld
Much like Greek goddess Persephone, those in the feminine path are not afraid to turn toward the underworld. The underworld or the dark world doesn't represent the evil out there, but the unconscious and often unhealthy patterns of thinking, ignorance, and filters within our own head that stop us from being our best. This is exactly what the world needs now. Stepping out of pointing fingers at things going wrong outside and focusing on parts of us that could be contributing to the chaos, and, therefore, causing pain to each other.
Unlike masculine views of black or white, it refuses to judge people by their actions alone. It is wise enough to know that anyone causing pain to others must already be in much pain. At the same time, it isn't afraid to stand up for what is right.
It encompasses all contradictions
The goddess is fierce, strong, and intelligent. She carries within herself the courage to slay the mightiest of enemies, yet she is kind, compassionate, and wise. She doesn't believe in dualism. Just like us human beings, the goddess is vulnerable to emotions.
When we become more familiar with the feminine path of wisdom, we embrace all parts of ourselves and thus allow others to be who they are with all their seemingly opposing traits: kind but strong, independent but doting, bold but emotional.
It does not judge you for being human
It promotes wholesome living rather than living a split life. Because of this, there is no space for hypocrisy or priests preaching celibacy and abusing underage kids. It understands that we are all souls with a body, yet the body is through which we experience this Universe.
Unlike patriarchal religions, it doesn't make you feel ashamed for having desires, fears, anger, urges and essentially being human. Instead, it invites you to look at all these aspects with grace and self-compassion. When we can look at all our innate drives without being defensive, we are more likely to be free of its grip.
It entices passion not force you to renounce it
Passion is a necessary accomplice that can take you closer to the Light, not an unwelcome foe that will set you off track. To feel strongly is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether that be sorrow, joy, lust, anger, compassion or ecstasy.
When you feel fear, jealousy, or mad rage, it invites you to turn within and reflect on these rather than shun it as sinful. Don't you think the world would be a much better place if everyone could take responsibility for their supposed weaknesses and do something about it? There would be no abuse, no violence, no countries plundering other countries, no hate crime.
Why? Because when you feel angry, agitated, upset, or scared, the path requires you to be honest with yourself and find the true reason for it rather than take a moralistic standpoint and blame others for your reaction. Much different from the picture of angry, vengeful man with the white beard who is waiting to judge you based on your sins. Don't you think?
It understands you are different at different times
Eastern goddesses are often seen armed with weapons/tools of different kinds that represent all traits of a human being. There is no either/or OR this or that. It's "all of these" and more. The woman who is fierce and fearless in fighting for a cause might feel vulnerable and scared when her child is unwell.
The man who loves his family might tear up in a moment of celebration, but might be completely fearless in quitting a job that asks him to act against his ethics. All of these are natural and normal. In the feminine, going with the flow is wisdom, not being consistent or stuck to moral views.
Here's a picture of an Indian goddess, Durga, with different tools/weapons, each representing a different aspect of the goddess.
It acknowledges the wisdom of the body
Your body never lies. When you feel scared, you feel it as a knot in your stomach. When you're emotionally exhausted, your body feels heavy and drained. When you know something seems off with a certain person, your body can sense it in the form of intuition. The feminine path understands the miracle that the human body is and asks you to follow its wisdom. Patriarchal religions focus more on doing the "right" thing or being "good or kind."
For example, you've had an emotionally exhausting week and you really need time for yourself. If someone who often resorts to asking you for help at the last minute asks you to babysit her child or send out a work email on his behalf, the right thing to do is to oblige.
Because the mind-made notions of right or wrong or being a good person are more important than your own wellness. In the feminine path, listening to your body and honoring your own needs is a spiritual practice. It doesn't promote selfishness; it promotes true selflessness. Because only what you have can you give.
It associates life with joy and not suffering
"If you suffer now, you will be happy in the afterlife."
"It's a sin to feel pleasure."
"Don't allow yourself to be blinded by worldly joys."
Almost every patriarchal religion promotes suffering as a sign of purity and equates joy and pleasure with sin. But the feminine path is wise enough to understand that life is all about balance, yet JOY is our innate nature. When we do the right thing, it feels right. There is no guilt, fear, shame, or confusion. According to this view, the Universe is infinitely abundant. There is nothing stopping you from experiencing abundant joy, love, success, and creativity.
It respects sex and sexuality as a spiritual experience
In the book, Aphrodite's Daughters, Ms. Bonheim talks about the split caused within the human psyche by unhealthy beliefs. Consider these statements that contributors had heard as children and shared.
If you have sex before marriage, you will won't have kids for a long time.
If you touch yourself down there, your parents will die.
Imagine the intensity of guilt the young children would have felt whenever they felt their body feeling a natural biological reaction? The ancient feminine religions are wise enough to see sexuality for what it is: a natural expression of life that can be used to have meaningful experiences.
When there is no guilt or shame associated with it, there will more dialogue about sex. This is what we need to solve many social issues surrounding abuse, sexuality, and violence.
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