“If your identity is based on relationship, you can extend it – in many directions. If your identity is based upon things you have to hold onto it and guard your ego boundaries.”i Dolores La Chapelle.
What is it that makes modern relationships such a hassle?
My relationship with my mother was the biggest hassle. She stood firmly in her masculine, wore the pants, and wanted me to too. My girl, who loved the peace of the waving willow and dreamed of streams where fairies whispered, was way too fluffy for her. I had to compete.
She took me to a TV show where all the children played a mysterious game. We all sat down, stood up, and circled our chairs. Someone removed a chair and when the music stopped all the children grabbed a chair. It took me a while to get this and I went for the last chair. Both me and this other girl. So I gave it to her in a spirit of love and sisterhood. She was in and I was out. This made sense to 5 year old me as I didn’t need the chair. Apparently this was the wrong attitude and made me a loser.
This was the first time I realised not everyone shared my world view.
The competition, condemnation, degradation and violence throughout our world arises from the ruthlessness of the hunter. We are trained to stalk and prey on things so we will be successful. This costs us the flow of the sacred, ignores the symbiosis inherent in all life, and shapes society. This set of distorted paradigms within our psyche block harmonious relationships, disabling the evolvution of balance in our beings. We have so many things, but we’re at war with our families, our neighbours, and ourselves.
How can we stand for love within predatory capitalism, when our psyche is at war with itself ? Modern family life trains us to fight on very subtle levels. I had to stand up for my softness, my freedom, my creative expression, daily. School is no different. We are rewarded and punished accordingly, very subtly, and our masculine minds flourish with these daily challenges. First challenge – turn up from 9am and stay until 3pm. There was no way my feminine nature could just stay in bed luxuriating timelessly. I was a dreamy, free, creative child. Before I knew it I was just fighting everyone, including myself.
“It is characteristic of Western man that he has split apart the physical and the spiritual sides of life for the purpose of gaining knowledge, but these opposites exist together in the psyche, and psychology must recognise the fact.”ii Carl Jung.
Tantra is all about relationship. Psychology, the modern term for science of mind, comes from the Greek Psyche, a feminine principle. Funnily enough, she was the goddess of the soul. She married Eros, god of love. Soul & Love. Sounds like a Divine a relationship! But here is the archetypal divorce. In ancient Greek, Logos is mind. In our current paradigm Logos is now in passionate homosexual monogamy with Eros. Science and Sex rule the world, without Soul.
So no wonder there’s little eros for evolution. The dynamic dance of polarity that once inspired art and culture doesn’t cut it in our rational world. Doesn’t make money. Even if Logos is ‘in touch with his feminine’ he’s grown up in a thoroughly masculinized world. With femininity so supressed, it’s a male culture. This, we cannot deny.
She, in all her wild unpredictability, lives in our personal underworld. She dances in our shadows. As anyone who has studied psychology knows, we are driven by our unintegrated dark side. That is where she resides.
Femininity knows flow.
“In certain traditional cultures, the state of flowing with ‘the powers’ goes on most of the time… Single pointed [masculine] efforts – [are] undertaken for a short time for a specific purpose. When such actions are over, those taking part must undergo specific rituals to get them out of that ‘dangerous’ state of mind and back into the ‘flow’ of the sacred ongoing daily life.
“In our modern Industrial Growth Society, the exact opposite takes place. We live most of our life in the ‘rational one-pointed concerted effort’ to get something accomplished and only very rarely and then sometimes by accident do we ever experience the ‘flow’ of the sacred.”iii Dolores La Chapelle.
It sounds easy. Just go with the flow, man. No. This is a practise we modern folks have to learn by stripping away all our conditioning. Going with the flow is a tantra that keeps us on a knife’s edge of aliveness. It’s not some hippy ideal, it’s a portal to power.
So I left my job in Melbourne and took off into an altarnation, the rainbow region of Australia coalesced around Wollumbin, to live an alternative lifestyle. Perhaps there I would find her? My source. I spent a decade participating in communities which rose and fell, were old and calcified, firmly drug dependent, came together ecstatically and then disappeared, or never made it past the planning phase. Of course, intentional community was not going to work for me – I was just too masculine. We were trying to prove we were as good as capitalism, or react against it. As my last attempt at intentional community was disintegrating, due once again to more Logos than Psyche, more focus on doing things than relating, I found the psychology of David Deida.
At once intruiged and appalled by the gross generalisations, I knew something needed to shift. By now I was living on the Coromandel, New Zealand, at the end of my resilience. Being the only woman residing on the property, I couldn’t help but be the magnet for everyone’s mother issues. The three men projecting their shadows at me kindled a journey deep into my Psyche. This brought my Eros back to life.
I think I can thank them for that, but as I write I’m still not sure…
Psyche and Eros two are signposts of tantric awakening. They ask you to go deep to find your power.
Up to this point, I dogmatically followed spiritual teachings of balance, harmony, integrated polarities – without realising how polarised I was – in the masculine. I thought I was happy navigating the world with my ‘masculine essence’ skills of direction, purpose, and ability to act calmly and rationally. I did not need a man to stabilise my “riptides of emotion”iv. Bwah ha haaa… I had just supressed it all.
My mind was strong and focussed, but femininity, my creativity, was projected outside of me; as the wounded earth, jealous sisters, emotional men, mother issues. It was time to embody these. To bring all the pieces back home.
At first Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man read like retro-chauvinist hype. I just did not get it. The friend who lent me Deida’s book insisted that it eloquently described his ex-wife, and Deida’s recipe worked for him. Yes, I did know women who fit Deida’s ‘feminine essence woman’ archetype. Just not me. What was the crazy magic there? So out of curiosity I began embodying the female he describes and kickstarted the reclamation of my feminine essence, Deida-style.
After a few experiments, I realised that what Deida describes is the active paradigm of woman and man in this time and (western culture) place. It’s not ideal – it is relationship in a masculinised world.
In a nutshell, Deida theorises that the 70’s Feminist Revolution has masculinised women and emasculated men, resulting in a loss of polarity in relationship. He surmises that “side effects of this trend towards sexual similarity can be seen as a major cause of today’s unhappiness in intimacy.”v
I think that prior to the Feminist Revolution there was also lots of unhappiness in intimacy – women just weren’t talking about it. Deida’s cure is to embrace the Jungian archetypes of feminine and masculine in our corresponding female and male bodies, and relate to each other this way. It’s rather the opposite of hierosgamos, but it works because that is how our psyches have been trained to work for centuries.
And that training is all coming undone now.
A child of the Feminist Revolution, I had a masculine mother role model. A spanner in the dominant paradigm. I was as smart as the guys, as fast as the guys, and I had no idea that women were considered less than equal until I studied it at university. My inherent masculinity enabled me to live effectively outside this paradigm as a free and independent gypsy, and I liked it. It worked for adventure and freedom but not for relationship. If I wanted relationship, I had to get down off my wild magic carpet and go grovel in the fecund hummus of my psyche. I had no idea how long this mucking around was gonna take me!
First port of call – do evil Eve.
My first experiment – throwing a ‘Deida-style feminine tantrum’ to get my way with one of the men in the community – worked like a charm. I got what I wanted, and more. This result had been unachievable with a co-operative attitude and rational communication!
How could throwing tantrums be the key to an enlightened lifestyle? That kind of behaviour is manipulative. It is manipulative simply because women have had to manipulate to get by in a world where we were raped or killed for disobeying men. Deida’s ‘feminine essence woman’ is not expressing true feminine power, but she gets results because she is engaging with the shadows, with the psychic cogs our culture is collectively trained to adhere to. This behaviour is learnt from our grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother.
Tantrums activate “fear of feminine power and chaos.”vi There is something deep in our masculine psyches which responds to wild emotions in a way we do not respond to rational expression. It makes no sense because it engages our unconscious shadow selves. This is an inkling of the goddess, the “feminine woman [who] may seem wild, untrustable or even irresponsible from a man’s [and a woman’s] perspective… such women are simply free of the masculine need to live in a world governed by reason and control.”vii
Her emotions are powerful. What powerful emotions really do is magic.
Deida is not describing a best-case-scenario for relationships, nor for empowered embodiment. However, through his work, we can recognise what is femininity and what is masculinity in the contemporary cultural consciousness. This gives us clues to our power, but the inability to transcend this game holds a traumatic polarity in place, maintaining the split between Psyche and Eros. It’s not going to get better playing at this level.
So it doesn’t make sense to trade gypsy independence for dysfunctional feminine essence (emotive instability and insecurity dramas) in order to attract the dysfunctional masculine essence (suppressed emotional control dramas) and try and make happy families. Clearly, these polarised and supressed gender struggles are the paradigm on which the foundation culture of competition, condemnation and violence has been built. We are all neatly wrapped up in a cycle of sex and power games in the suburbs.
Similar to Freud, who developed sexual theories by observing Victorian clients with sexual dysfunction, Deida observes the psychological reality of heterosexual women and men interacting in modern patriarchal culture and expresses it as spiritual truth.
With the hindsight of a century, we see Freud’s theories as initiating a deeper seeking, but founded on observing the oppressed Victorian psyche. Deida, in much the same way, is making accurate observations of real women and men, but these interactions are within a culture based on the historical suppression of feminine power.
Thus we can see the results of desecrated femininity.
Deida’s description of ‘feminine essence’ is specific to a cultural time and space. Femininity only clutters shelves with shells and trickets, and fills kitchens with commodities, because we have the Warehouse and New World to supply these – as an alternative to real fulfillment. It gives the erroneous impression that women who like zen spaces are not feminine. These are symptoms of a constricted psyche. We have to go deeper.
Why tantrums? Deida’s ‘feminine essence’ is the psyche of woman subjected to oppression, eugenics, and media manipulation. She has soap operas and pop stars to mime. From time to time wildness arises within her and she roars. So she tantrums. Woman roars from the place of the Dark Feminine, for most modern women can access the anger of the supressed goddess, can express Kali and metaphorically cut off your head. This comes from femininity denied, love denied. The arena for the dance of love denied is relationship.
As the polarity to this Dark Feminine, most men embody the Light Masculine. They are a warrior to the rescue with their golden sword, or their wand of light. As our culture deeply fears feminine power, men often get stuck in this white knight archetype. There, they also contract and die.
“Most men are limpened with doubts and uncertainties. Or they hold back their true drive because of fear. So they diddle their woman and the world just enough to extract the pleasure and comfort they need to assuage their nagging sense of falsity and incompleteness.”viii David Deida.
We, women and men who are significantly masculine, all suffer from limpness in a culture which denies Psyche in favour of Logos. Eros is not aroused. Our complete immersion in the masculine principle, over many centuries, splits spirituality from rationality, community from the economy, and recreates and maintains humanity as manipulated economic units.
No wonder the goddess is growling. Her archetype remains unnoticed, unfilfilled. She has no choice but to tantrum.
Created and explored by Carl Jung, archetypes assist us to classify and therefore comprehend behaviour, in a masculine way. The masculine archetype can be described briefly as the hunter – in control, with single pointed focus, the provider. The feminine archetype is the gatherer – using intuition to navigate resource acquisition, nuture the tribe, and birth life in her womb.
In such a model, the mature male bestows (king), and the mature female receives (queen). The immature masculine is an enforced provider (knight), and the immature feminine must either acquire or acquiesce (princess).
Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi describes the immature, subordinate feminine, in both female and male psyches, as the Eve archetype: “She accepts the social hierarchy in which the male dominates society, and functions within it. She allows for the social, sexual and intellectual superiority of the male, supporting the existing social order.” ix
Generations have embodied the subordinate Eve archetype to stay safe in society. This repression gains expression in tantrums, withdrawal and narcissism. Our masculinity embodies this subordination in a different way. It seeks control, expressed in domination of structures, women, children and nature. Women recently expressed themselves by taking on masculine power in the workplace and in the bedroom. Now women have masculine power, and we are still not happy or whole. We do not suspect the source is our denial of femininity.
Deida is observing the historical outcome of denying femininity.
“A more masculine man can expect that any woman who really turns him on and enlivens him will also be relatively wild, undisciplined, ‘bonkers’, chaotic, prone to changing her mind, and ‘lying’.”x David Deida.
This denial has made men ‘bonkers’ in a different way to women; in a way of extreme control. It now makes sense to me – even though it’s really dysfuntional – that modern men are attracted to crazy females who tantrum. This is their shadow. In its extreme it becomes psychopathy.
Since we have progressively released our culture from the bondages of 1950’s role relating, twenty first century relationships are the most challenging ever!
For both women and men, as long as our inner feminine remains unacknowledged, we project it onto the “chaotic and complicated”xi woman. This evil Eve. In this way we continually manifest our shadow for healing, embodied by our sexual partner, or by complicated relations with our sisters, girlfriends, or our mother. Our challenge is to own our wild feminine energy, and not project it.
For me, encountering the feminine within is scary because I am so used to control. Control came upon my childhood from my parents, my schooling, and at every turn where I decided to be free. When I made it out of the mainstream into the wilds of the altarnation, I had control integrated within me. So controlled are we that we think we can’t survive in a world which is open, flowing and changing. That is the sleight of mind that keeps us trapped in the dominant paradigm. We don’t know that we can experience loss of control as magical power.
“Surrendering to change means letting go of control. Yet, as much as we want our lives to be different, the truth is, we don’t like it much when our illusion of being in control is challenged.”xii Kathryn Woodward Thomas.
I always believed in magic, so I was willing to go the extra mile to see if it would happen. In my twenties, as I adventured forth into an alternative life, I did not know that I needed to find my feminine within. I intuitively embraced her on the outside, with nature, dance and wildness. I realised my desire to dance skyclad beneath full moons in circles, celebrating freedom and love, over and over until it became a pulse which transformed me. I held tenaciously on to my wild visions of transcendance and made them real. That is how I found where true power lies. I am witness to transient but coherent communities of free beings who transform lives and make magic, regularly, reconnecting the circle outside the paradigm of fear and control, for powerful moments in time.
I wish we all lived like this, all the time.
Wildness is a tantra. The journey of self-realisation is wild. Tantra is the path of inner marriage, hierosgamos, sacred union. Here we don’t homogenise ourselves – quite the opposite, we gain freedom to play all the parts because we release ourselves from attachment to any part. We weave all the facets of femininity and masculinity into our psyches and express this in the world in a way which is rewarding and entertaining, leading inexorably towards self-actualisation.
“It is when a woman has her own inner male in balance and when a man has his inner feminine in balance that they are ready to attract to themselves an equal partner as a consort. True consort practice will uplift and further free the couple from any limitations,”xiii Shantara Mu Khalsa.
The fact is that couples who balance their feminine and masculine within also have great success being couples in the world, no matter what Deida observes. Simply, this level of integration is rare. You won’t see it in the soapies, sitcoms and sports we use to ‘sex type’ ourselves into pre-ordained gender roles.
When we are polarised in masculine or feminine, seeking our complimentary opposite, projecting our shadows, we spend our energy on things. Making money to secure houses to keep our possessions in, shopping for more possessions and more experiences, looking good, obtaining the technology to document how good we look, and our things, on social media. All ways we seek outside ourselves for the polarity we could be bringing from within for integration and wholeness.
The deeper implication of the feminine/masculine split is that it makes humanity perfect for Orwellian factory farming. As long as our feminine selves are sexually suppressed and subservient, or as masculinised as me, and the denied feminine essence drives us wild, we cannot access our personal power. With our personal power so distorted, how can we expect to have wholesome relationships? Better shop instead. That’s great for the economy. The tantric path seeks to cultivate our personal power so we can expand our relations from a place which rises above the need for things to impress and things to attract. It comes from unconditional love.
Self satisfied humans are less likely to shop.
Feminine radiance has been commodified – softporn objects ripe to be plucked. See it in any magazine. Women, particularly young women, still conceptualise ourselves as porn objects. This is what our culture trains us to be. We guard our beauty and our hearts from each other in a subtle war to acquire things. This is the antithesis of relationship. This is why we grow up competeing with our sisters for clothes and boys. Any feminine urge has been turned into a need for new products.
Psychologists and neuroscientists acknowledge the superior social ability of the female brain. It is designed for networking, whereas the male brain is designed for direct action. Disconnect these complementary abilities, give men all the power, and a desecrated culture results. The female brain is wired for analysis and intuition, bringing the power of interconnected decision-making; the importance of relationship. Relationship is instinctually feminine. What we cultivate, when we cultivate our femininity, is our relationship to the sacredness of all beings. War cannot exist within this paradigm.
I realised I did not know how to do relationship. I was always fighting, always at subtle war.
So I learnt to get chaotic (you may think war is chaotic, but it’s actually very organised). I learnt to sit in others’ chaos. I loved being there, in the unknown moment before order befalls in a perfection unimagined by the rational mind. This is a place of power. I stretched my trust until life became an edge that I danced upon, awaiting the next gorgeous synchronicity. I got messy. I got wild. I roared and cried. I am letting go of my calm and capable self-image. I am enticing relationship within me. It’s not easy but each time I step towards my femininity I know she steps towards me.
The magic of this practice is that conscious community now unfolds before me.
My tantric initiation began with Deida. It began when I touched the depth of grief for the lost feminine with me. All I had lived before, on the alternative fringe of the modern world, was the novice path. I was just flirting with esoteric concepts and tribal lifestyles. When I allowed the unexpressed feminine polarity within me to awaken and I drew her forth into expression, my initiation began. She came opening doors leading into realms I never knew existed. I met my tantra teachers, I met an amazing lover, and I met the International School of Temple Arts. Three years later my life is transformed far beyond the vivid imaginings of my rebellious but rational mind.
Now I knew where she was – but how did she get there? Essential to our collective reintegration of the feminine are archetypal stories – Demeter, Persephone, Asherah, Hathor, Lilith, and Hine Nui Te Po. Bring the goddess out and let her be truly seen, in all the crazy tragedy that she has endured, so that we become consciously aware of her journey. So we know how we got here, and what we need to do to move on. There are keys of wisdom hidden in the underworld. Get out your masculinity and let’s stalk shadows.
i Dolores La Chapelle, Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep, Kivaki Press, Colorado 1992 p86
ii Carl Jung, Secret of the Golden Flower, Mariner Books 1962, p131
iii Op cit, Dolores La Chapelle, p127
iv Op cit, David Deida somewhere!!!
v David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man, Sounds True, Colorado 2004, p3
vi Ibid p91
vii Ibid p89
viii Ibid p32
ix Ohad Ezrahi, Lillith
x Op cit, David Deida, p86
xi Op cit, David Deida, p15
xii Kathryn Woodward Thomas, Calling in the One, Three Rivers Press, New York 2004, p53
xiii Op cit, Shantara Ma Khalsa, Tantra Unveiled Through the Feminine, p76