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22 Chapters : Femininity. Falling From Grace. Psyche & Eros. Maiden of Dawn, Woman of Dark. Hermana. In The Beginning. Lilith Comes First. Pyramid. Golden Age. Kuthundur. Dystopia. Ki Ara. Hierosgamy. Coming Together. Amrita. Descending. Altarnation. Occult Means. Sustainable Love Society. Rainbows. Enter The Feminine. Temple Arts. Read on ~ : ~ :
I am not claiming to be a tantrika of old. Anciently, and for those now fully immersed in the ancient ways, the life of a tantrika is very different. That age has passed; today tantra is a word washed all over the place with unspecific tongues. However there are still those who roam the earth as practitioners of true tantras, and they are my inspiration. A few of these tantrikas are my teachers.
Commonly in Kashmir, where tantra began, tantrikas took the path of the householder, with a foot in both realms. This is where I stand. In one realm I am communing with devas and dragons, cultivating a body of nectar. In another I live as mother, artist, dancer, gardener and I make change in this physical world so others may join the path towards wholeness.
A few words from a teacher of true tantras:
“While the popular understanding in America of the word tantra is about sex, a truer understanding is ‘development of a refined energy body directly aware of itself originating from source.’ As a path, tantra starts with the development of the Inner Temple and concerns itself with the continuum and the continuity of conscious presence. Tantric practise, at times, works with passion and blending; thus sexual union is an invaluable aspect, provided the ability and awareness of working with refined energy is already present.”
Tantra is not what you think it is. It is the left hand path, led by the feminine. It sounds easy, but how we arrive at a place where we are truly ready to drop deeply into self-realisation is another story. This is my story, going deeper and deeper, more surrendered, more open. It is also our story, the story of a wounded humanity seeking to become whole, powerful and loving. We are one and the same.
I had no idea what was feminine. I was raised within this masculine paradigm where women and men behave like hunters with single pointed deadly focus. I was imprinted by patriarchal consciousness regardless of my gender. I unfolded my persona in a culture where all the sounds, structures, systems, science and language are masculine. As I grew up it became clear to me that there is an insatiable unintegrated male god destroying my world.
So began the path of a tantrika, a hierosgamos seeker – as above so below, as within so without. If I can acheive my own sacred marriage, so will my world fall in love. First I had to find her.
Fortunately, the goddess is returning. She arises as an archetypal energy of transformation. She changes everything she touches changes. She resides within everyone. She is the body we are born from. During last century, women arose to collectively reclaim feminine power, even though we didn’t really know what that was. How could we – she had been underground for millenia.
In my culture she is nearly nowhere. Like the Isle of Avalon, gone. Hidden in plain sight and unreachable through the misits that veil forgetting. That which is most hidden is the entrance to power. So, to find my power I must stalk her and marry her. To do that I must embody her. For when all else failed it, was the only thing left to do.
The way of feminine power is a bit like synaesthesia. Synaesthesia (ancient Greek σύν syn, together, and αἴσθησις aisthēsis, sensation) is described as a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (i). For some, letters are coloured, numbers have a personality and when we hear music we see images.
In the same way humans with ‘normal’ senses do not perceive music as imagery, we who have grown up in the patriarchal paradigm do not see the ways of feminine power. They are so outside of our conscious awareness, they may as well be colourful sound. Our inner goddess, our shakti, is a sacred practice hidden beneath layers of anger, denial and fear. How could I find my femininity amidst so much desacration? I followed her faint heartbeat hidden beneath cultural overlays telling me who I was as a woman.
I found her in the forest. I gazed upon her in clear streams pouring through ancient granite riverbeds. I spent fifteen years freely wandering in modern poverty, eschewing the cities, seeking hierosgamos in the hills with ephemeral tribes of global gypsies. I found the places and the people she inhabited languidly. I saw her relax as we all got into our parasympathetic nervous systems and she came by to make magic happen. She followed the music. So did I.
Going to town, becoming an economic unit, when I was living life-as-artist, made sense only to go shopping. Occasionally I left the mountains and made the descent into mainstream culture. I saw there the same things I first noticed as a child; war, violence, competition, and condemnation where there could be heaven on Earth. We are living in an elegant Orwellian factory farm of work consume die, where I don’t see feminine power. It took me some time to figure out why.
Humanity lost our magic. We lost our magic because we lost our sacred union. The remedy for this unmagical situation of patriarchal consciousness is to find our goddess and marry her. This is the path of a tantrika in the twenty first century. It is harder than you think. Hierosgamos, like synaesthesia, is a ‘together sensation’ likely outside your perception. That makes coming together cutting edge consciousness, for it is your perception which must change, open, surrender control. Sacred union is a magic potion for evolution, but it will suprise us with its direction. Consumer culture can’t let real femininity in – no wonder, for this is its nemesis. But embracing our feminine power is just what is needed to turn history into our story, turn the tides on planetary desecration, and provide endless fun and fulfillment. The potential for this, of course, is within you.
If a teacher tells you tantra means weaving, walk the other way. There are seven definitions of ‘tantra’ in sanskrit. Weaving is one of them. Scripture is another. None of these definitions convey the esoterica of the tantric path.
The esoteric definition of tantra is manifold, subject to interpretive etymologies, and can actually only be experienced by walking this path. My favourite interpretive etymology is this : Tantra has the root syllables ‘tan’ which means – a dynamic tension (of polarities) causing one to expand, and ‘tra’ – a device and the root of ‘three’ – triangulation. So to practise tantra is to use the dynamic tension of duality (feminine and masculine – within and without) as a device to expand and synthesise into our soul/Great Spirit/self-realisation/God/dess/our immortal presence – to be all that we can be. On earth. It is an alchemical impulse urging us to embody love in this world, not the next. Emprisoning our sexuality, by oppressing femininity, denies everyone acccess to life force – the physical energetic means of self realisation. No wonder it is hidden by the ‘powers that be.’ Controlling our life-force thwarts the collective mastery of the human species.
To put it simply, the path of feminine power contains the forgotten magic of the human race.
The greatest divorce on earth was archetypal – in the transpersonal realm the god divorced the goddess. Our inner relationship was broken, reflected in our outer relationships. This led to a war on life force, in a cult(ure) of love denied. Awaken to the masculinisation of your psyche. Get to know your inner girl. Come with me on this journey and I will show you where she is. To find her, we are going down to the underground.
i Synaesthesia definition http://www.wikipedia.com
Falling From Grace
I am lying by the fire, scent of sage and the trance like voice of Osher River Oriyah leads me in. When my inner vision awakens I am unable to move as soldiers raid the temple. I am unable to move – why? My vision pierces the scene and I see that I am birthing; my wrists are bound to the birthing posts so that I can comfortably drop to release my baby; my baby is crowning as the soldiers burst in. That is why I am squatting on this altar of a birthing chair, unable to flee. The soldiers came in and the women surrounding me are screaming and chased way, slashed at with swords.
The temple was beautifully whitewashed, warm and light. Now it was chaos and fire and I am trapped. As my baby birthed with a thud onto the straw, no woman present to receive it, a soldier confronted me. He ruthlessly kicked my babe from between my feet, umbilical cord and placenta, ripped from my womb with a sting. My newborn skittled across the stone floor. He stood tall and smelly between baby and me, his sword dangling between his legs. Was he going now to kill me?
Aha. Here is the ancestral source of anguish in motherhood.
He looked at me hanging here, once elated and orgasmic with childbirth, now frozen in shock. He snarls and walks away, stomping on baby’s chest as he leaves. I struggle to release my wrists, do so, and dive for my child. I know that he has just crushed lungs and heart and my baby is not going to survive. I guide suffering newborn lips to my breast; a few feisty sucks and the spirit leaves baby, unable to breathe.
The temple is burning; the wooden and thatch roof is falling so I duck into a stone corner and howl with injustice at separation. My survival instinct arises and I scamper outside. I am high on the steps of the temple, seeing below the fragrant spring countryside and the soldiers rounding up my sisters in the gardens. I stand shaking in the penetrating sunlight, bloody babe in arms, wrapped in a white woven sari which is stirring in the sea breeze. My hair is dark and curly and sweaty. I feel fear beating adrenalin through my body for the first time. I do not recognise it.
Only now do I move aside the placenta and look to see her sex. She is a girl. My heart skips beats.
Soldiers grab me and drag me away down the steps. I have no force of resistance. I lose my baby’s body but I see baby’s spirit rise in gorgeous lightbeams met by sun streams, and crazily I smile. She is beautiful.
My physical heartbeat quickens as I bring them both into my etheric heart. I bring the priestess and her baby into my heart. They are together, reunited here. The baby girl has big blue eyes which twinkle and smile. The priestess holds her up towards me, they are laughing and so happy, and I welcome them in. I savour this moment. Life is whole once more. Briefly. Tears flow down my cheeks and my heart expands. I have reclaimed her.
Psyche & Eros
“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
Maiden of Dawn, Woman of Dark
“Love revealed itself to me as being the free flow of energy, and loving being like breathing. If you do it properly you will remain connected to your divinity, if you stifle and force, or fear it, you contract and slowly die.” i Shantara Mu Khalsa.
The Omphalos, for the Greeks, was the navel of the world; connected by a loving umbilical cord to the source of all life. A long way back, the OM was removed and we ended up with phallus, ruling the world.
As I open and I am penetrated by the bittersweetness of all life, I am incredibly, profoundly sad. How did this happen? Once upon a time I know that we lived in love, that it flowed between all of us like between a mother and child. This must have been before the Fall, for afterwards men clearly ruled. For many, many years I pondered how the phallus came to rule the world. There are two sexes, surely they are meant to compliment each other?
In my teenage world I saw no complimentarity. The girls around me were competeing to be the most beautiful, or the smartest, copying what we saw in magazines and pop vids. The boys were hard and mean and had no interest in me. The adults were busy destroying the planet.
It was my constant question: how did we arrive at such a lopsided place; contracted, fearful, polarised to survive, and not truly alive?
So I joined the rebels. We were smart and we were in love with the earth. She became the complimentary opposite. We were white knights and we were gonna rescue her. As I loved the earth, I sought earthy paths to enlightenment, Wicca and tribal spirituality. While I was at university, crystals came alive, I talked to the trees, I bought rare herbs and small vials of rose oil. I began environment groups, I marched for hemp, I dressed in op shop clothing. I joined a flock of black sheep and we ran all over the big stinking city like an adventure playground. We held mainstream in disdain. We found Avalon in psychedelic nights at underground clubs and danced in the train stations, coming down amidst the suited morning commuters, whom we despised. This was our protest to patriarchy.
It was not the answer. We found more alienation, more to fight, more desperation, and some found addiction and death this way. The brink of ecological chaos on which my world teetered was evident all around me. I knew exactly how many megacubicmetres of waste went into landfill in this city every day. I knew what poisons were in the air I breathed. I witnessed no one caring, old trees falling to skyscrapers rising, political perfidy and always the threatening hand of order and taxes controlling me.
My parents bought a house I could rent-to-own in the city. But where was she?
Nature, she was not here. Only in pieces – a pot plant, a park all mown, a small backyard veggie garden. I longed to be embraced by her, surrounded by her perfume and greenery. I thought that would make me whole. So I chose adventure over career, I dodged the trap, I shot the gap, and I landed in a tipi by a river in the sub-tropical rainforests of a caldera. I could breathe.
Here, I was sure I would find the tribe who coud heal me, the spells cast which would make me free.
This is the altarnation. Once upon a time integrated power was alive and well here on this planet, but in the twenty frst century this is close as I could get to a golden age. Northern NSW. Affectionately known as “the shire,” alternative is the mainstream. In here Hine Ti Tama, maiden of dawn – the empowered feminine, before her split and the Fall – became my inspiration. How Hine Ti Tama became Hine Nui Te Po – woman of dark, smothered by a colonialism too ancient to remember, I sought to know. The world outside my tipi haven had mastered masculine power. I knew it was filled with shiny bright things, but the glamour was lost on me. All I could see was rape and pillage. So I stayed with the earth mother in the rainforests. Got dirty.
We have forgotten what it is like in here (we’re so out there) finding jewels in a dark womb full of life.
In my womb-like tipi, just as in tribes anciently, life was magical. Simple but abundant. Indigenous people tell me they were rich. Once the forest was like living in a supermarket with the doors always open, said one to me, take what you like. Always enough. Documented by missionairies, tribes have supernatural abilities we now call magic, like tracking, telepathy, shamanic healing, transmutation and influencing the weather. 80% of tribal time is leisure, just like the very rich. Pre-history, the original paths connecting spirit and matter were well known and tribes lived as an integrated complimentary whole. Stories were sacred oral secrets. Tribal women did not tell their stories to men. Not today, and not when missionary men arrived to document their culture. It is ‘women’s business.’
My love of earth and journey to reclaim my tribal nature took me into the ramshackle wilds of Australian aboriginal community. When I lived with original tribes above the Daintree, how femininity fell into darkness dawned on me. Men only tell men mens’ stories. I am a woman, so there the original women shared their barely remembered womens’ business with me.
Whether Maori, Mohican or Mongol, the juicy mystery of gender polarity is revered in this secretive way. Vive la difference, right? Female colonialists bound by conservative christianity had no freedom to venture into the wilds where the tribal women made ceremony and circle. No opportunity to pass on sacred womens’ mysteries arose. So where we find the heroic deeds of men, like Tane, Maui or Jesus, we lack complimentary tales of heroic women.
Womens’ mysteries fell through a twist in history.
The process of global colonisation by patriarchy occurred between 300 and 2000 CE. Colonised cultures benefitted from economic growth, but lost their health, culture, community, natural resources and gender expressions (some Turtle Island tribes had seven genders). Heterosexual men were exhalted according to the Christian model, and females became their ribs. We could make a long list of all the cultures which have been recently colonised, but it is just easier to say – everywhere.
Have you seen first hand what it looks like to be a colonised tribe? With Uncle Lewis, a Wahrbal elder on the Australian Great Divide, and white fellas from the altarnation, I lived for 9 months creating a reconciliation festival – Rainbow Corroboree. We began with no budget and manifest a three day event where 800 people came (even as the local council was trying to remove us all from Uncle Lewis’ tribal land). It was the first of many.
The Wahr-bal people, a strong and proud tribe, live in poverty in a suburb built for them, and partially demolished by them, on the other side of the river. They have a Christian focus, little traditional wisdom, and speak mostly English. They have television but not internet, and many are alcohol and drug addicted. This is the usual story of colonised people. It is stamped all over the planet.
In the 1960’s, as a child, Uncle Lewis was stolen from his tribe. His grandmothers had the foresight and courage to steal him back and he was raised in caves and camps beside the Rocky River, where his tribe lived from the Dreamtime for over 40,000 years. There he learned the stories, language and tribal ways and returned to empower his people with their traditional knowledge.
The Wahrbal survived. Many tribes did not, and many tribes lost all their knowledge, language, customs and spiritual power on the way to surviving.
Now imagine this has happened to all women. Imagine this has happened to that part of our psyche we idenitfy as feminine; our creative, nuturing, intuitive, interconnected side.
Over 1500 years ago the Celtic tribes of Western Europe were conquered by the Roman Catholic Church and Anglo Saxons. Celtic stories survive to describe the bright and brilliant deeds of powerful women. Such stories share how magical and integrated spirit and matter was before the Fall. After the Romans and Saxons succeeded, life was drear and often deadly for the descendants of Eve.
The Romans gained supremacy in the 6th century CE. Our political idol, the Athenian democracy, circa 500 BCE, comes via these dudes. The Athenian ‘democracy’ excluded women and slaves. Before the Romans, the Greeks; before the Greeks, the Myceneans, and what did they do? They overran the most recent documented example of equanimous civilisation we have, Minoan Crete, around 1400 BCE.
Colonialists of the modern era have used pretty much the same formula as the Roman Empire did throughout Europe: forcefully remove tribe from the land to which they belong; send in religious missionaries, disease, doctors and drugs; organise tribe into accommodation; ban their language and rituals; and attempt to assimilate those willing (and unwilling) into positions of servitude, especially the hybrid children – steal them if necessary. Through recent and ongoing colonialisation (such as in the Amazon) we can witness the fate of heretics to the conquerers’ state; what happens to those whose rituals and herbal lore was banned, who were organised into servitude, whose ‘illegitimate’ children were adopted or orphaned, and whose very bodies became subject to the conquerers’ authority.
This is what happened to femininity when we were subject to Christianity.
However, it is not described like this in history class. We unearthed it from other sources, the multitude of us who are alternative historians, amateur political commentators, and eye witnesses to the injustice of incorporations, and the misreporting of media. History is a fiction written by the victors, and we share that truth all over the inernet every day, with our independent photos and words. Not so in the Dark Ages. After Celtia fell, King Arthur ruled, and Avalon disappeared into the mists, the victors who arose were the priestly caste of the Roman Empire. They were not really Romans, but Anglo Saxons, who wrote history in Latin.
“In the 12th century ancient manuscript scrolls were being written into books with a simple readable Latin script. These books pretend to be collections from separate individual documents – none of which can be found. This was the opportunity for the Ottonian dynasty (of German kings 919-1024) and the church to create ‘phantom history’ to their own advantage. This was an illiterate time, only the highest aristocrats and a few church people could read. There are practically no books from the 11th and 12th centuries, and the ones pertaining to Germany’s ‘Dark Ages’ period come from only a handful of monasteries in Germany. Yes, the creation of phantom history would have been easy,” ii Georg Dehn.
The entire culture which emerged from the European Dark Age was organised around this fictional history, written by monks.
“It was the woman that you gave me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 3:12 Genesis
Dark Age manuscripts written by German monks became the cornerstones of European political thought. They are the source of both the King James Bible and the Westminster political system. The Bible was translated to English in 1385 by John Wycliffe and associates. The first authorised version was signed off by Elizabeth I of England in 1611. The lens for translation was the dominant paradigm of white male supremacy (sorry guys, it’s history). We were remade in the image of God, only one god. A male god.
“So the Roman Catholic Church is the filter through which global history passed; “the predominant mythic of the Dark Age – the god without a goddess – continues to perpetuate and support the oppositional and mechanical paradigm that science itself refutes.”iii Laura Knight Jadczyk.
Who were the last devotees of the goddess? We are presented to children as ugly crones with warty noses and have been written into history as Witch. We all know what happened to witches during the time of Queen Elizabeth l and her predesessors. Today we are still undoing the ancestral trauma of burning on a stake. We may want to live as love; as we walk into the shadows of forgotten stories we find that what closes our hearts is the fear in our cells which was laid down in the Burning Times. This is the modern name for the pogrom of fear conducted by church, state and community between 1300 and 1800 CE in the name of a Lord. It was not only women who burned.
“Beginning in 1022, the Church started executing ‘heretics’, people who disagreed with its teachings. So when the Burning Times began, Europeans were accustomed to murdering religious dissidents. In fact the traditional method of killing a Witch (burning her at the stake) was the ‘normal’ way of executing heretics.”iv The last witch was executed in Europe in 1793.
Sad but True
The Crusades (11th to 13th centuries) and the Inquisition (16th century) were the way to silence heretical world views (today we call this ‘terrorism’). For the gory story please view The Burning Times by Donna Read (National Film Board of Canada 1990) or read The Heart of the Fire by Cerridwen Fallingstar (1990). The Burning Times had a huge impact in our collective unconscious. Here we buried feminine power deep, in our culture, our politics, and in our personal underworlds. Surviving today, are the children of the witches who did not burn. Which goes to show, feminine power is still around.
Witchcraft fascinated the Middle Ages. Witch hunting was a popular sport in Europe and America. Peasants and common folk initiated most of the trials. Members of a community could seek revenge against a woman by labelling her a witch. Perhaps they believed she had cursed their livestock or brought illness upon their household. Perhaps they wanted to her to wed their son and she had declined. Trials were public spectacles, often well attended. When the Spanish Inquisition killed six witches in 1610, over 30,000 people came to watch. Books on witch hunting, like Malleus Maleficarium, by Inquisitor Heinrich Kramer, sold like hot cakes. They were among the earliest books printed in England.
How would it feel to live in a time where woman was set against woman within community, often battling for life and death with her sisters? This ancestral battle is played out in shopping malls and soapies to this very day.
“During the Middle Ages, Christians thought that Witches worked alone or in isolated, small groups. Witches were ‘misguided’ victims of ‘Pagan superstitions’ but they weren’t particularly dangerous. In the early modern period, however, Christian intellectuals theorized that all witches worked together, that they were an organized, murderous [satanic] conspiracy — the deadly enemies of Christianity. Fear of this non-existent conspiracy grew slowly over the next 150 years, and the number of Witch trials gradually increased during the 14th and 15th centuries.”v
What else was burnt at the stake? Feminine joy, our wisdom, our love of the mother, our nurturing essence, and our reliance on community. If we cannot trust our community we are forced to rely on external authority. That external authority is most often embodied by men.
The estimate of witches burned varies between 60,000 and 9 million. Whatever the human cost, it is clear that the circle was broken. The circle where women and men found their femininity nurtured, informed and increased, was penetrated by the sword of external-god-seeking and rent asunder. During these centuries polarised archetypes of Eve and Lilith were firmly embedded in our collective unconscious. The niches and groves of the world where the goddess still played were sought out and purged. No more singing and dancing in the stone circles. No more lovemaking in the forest at Beltane. Our repression of ecstatic self-expression is a cultural norm relieved only by addiction to intoxicating substances which release us from this fear.
“A straight line, one that has a beginning and an end, is a symbol of a target-oriented mind. It immediately appears as a scale that can measure and judge between each two points – determining which one is closer and which one is farther from the source. In the circle, all of the points are simply equal. There is no beginning and no end to the circle. Yet the circle is blocked within itself when the line is breaking through to infinity.”vi Ohad Ezrahi.
The round of life which incorporated woman, man and nature was penetrated by the linear drive to claim the power of an abstract Lord God. In the search for higher principles and transcendent realities women and men ignored its compliment – unconditional love. In the drive for control, the circle of community was broken, and broken again.
This Machiavellian strategy – gaining obedience to the church/state through fear, amounted to a form of eugenics against all that is feminine; healers, herbalists, mid-wives, druids, ecstatic dancers, and the girl down the lane who refused sex.
If I have trouble opening up in intimacy, if Iover-give or submit myself to passive-aggressive, or outright violent manipulation, I am living the repercussions of the Burning times. If I condemn my sisters for their openness or their wildness, I perpetuate this tragedy of women burning. The broken circle rolls stumbling onwards, affecting whole populations and global ecosystems.
Violence equals fear equals contraction. We can know this with our breath, is it not so with our femininity? Holding our breath is a normal response to shock, it is a term used to describe tension and suspense. Violence is the tool of masculine domination since the goddess cultures were destroyed. Violence is something we have to acknowledge within ourselves if we want to practice tantra, in a safe and secure space, for it is a part of the whole. It exists in our shadow and we need to bring it to the light of our awareness. Embracing the whole is a tantric practice, and opening to the history of violence is a necessary part of this.
Nowadays we have clear scientific evidence that violence affects our development.
I picked up a pamphlet at my local childcare centre. It is entitled: “Seeing, hearing and feeling violence changes the way your child’s brain grows.”vii I look at this pamphlet and imagine the generations of children who grew up fearing that their mother could be burned at the stake, slaughtered by an invading tribe from the north, stolen from them by a missionary, or raped by her family members. I imagine a lot of our ancestors witnessed such events regularly. The pamphlet says “family violence, it’s not ok!”
Children of the modern era, offspring of the Feminist revolution, offspring of the World War generations, offspring of Victorian capital punishment, offspring of the Burning Times, show an exponential increase in all forms of craziness and cancer. These alarming and largely ignored cultural tendencies are listed in the pamphlet; “children who grow up in a violent environment can develop: learning difficulties, problems with controlling anger and emotions, a tendency towards criminal activities, mental health issues, abusive relationships, addictions to drugs and alcohol, suicidal thoughts.”viii
Many of us grow up with violence. Not necesarily physical violence, but more likely emotional and psychological violence. The silent, socially acceptable kind. I don’t know many people of my generation who were not damaged in this way.
As a teen I would call my mother a control freak, a dragon lady, draconian. My friends were too scared to come for sleepovers. When I attracted a certified bi-polar boyfriend, I perceived many similarities between him and my mother. Somehow she had also been damaged and she was living out of post traumatic stress disorder. As I child I just experienced her as sociopathic – she threatened, she belittled me, she threw tantrums and kept moving the goal posts, she hid letters to and from my friends, and she lied.
When I was about seven I left a safety pin undone on the bench. My mother told me that if a baby had swallowed that and died that she would be sent to prison and executed. This was decades after capital punishment had been banned. Here was my first philosophical dilemna – would I let my mother die? I decided that I would give myself up and, instead of her, I would die. I remember how that felt. Not long after I did start to die.
I thought that every night would be my last, and I would die in my sleep. I did my best drawing on a block of wood and wrote loving words to my parents, so they would find it in the morning, after I was dead. I hid it every morning and put it out at night when the lights were out. I got very sick. I couldn’t go to school. I stayed at home for six months before I rejoined the world. It was all psychosomatic. It changed my life.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, the Roman Catholic Church probably did not know that it was institutionalising the devolution of the human species by popularising violence against heretics. We know this now because we have neuroscience. We will not be burned for raising our children with loving kindness in our chosen lineage today. Criticized, yes. Punished by our parents, perhaps. We may suffer the ridicule of our friends, who place their c-sectioned infants in childcare so they can continue to earn a fashionable wage, but we can respond by accusing them of devolution.
We inherited the fiction that violence is a natural law. Skim the surface of Darwin’s thesis and you will find that humanity co-operated to evolve. ‘Survival of the fittest’ was promoted by the emerging industrial capitalists of the Victorian era. Offspring of the Burning Times, they wrote a dog-eat-dog scenario into history as the ‘way it had always been.’ This supported the free market illusion. Hunting for profit was institutionalised as more important than peaceful and productive procreation of the species. A patriarchal glamour so good for the economy, and so it remains today.
In highschool, when I became aware of the political world around me, I saw my community entraining me to become an economic unit just like them. I fully awoke when my mother told me I would be free when I got a mortgage (French for ‘death game’) and bought my own house. I realised this was the siren song of a hollow life wrapped in smooth media promises, leading nowhere. Thus began my search for a circle.
“The paradigm shift needs to happen now, before it’s too late. We must take serious steps in embracing and raising the circle-consciousness, including its shadow sides, accepting the wholeness of the feminine, and making deep peace with nature. This will occur only if the right balance between the linear and the circular, masculine and feminine is achieved. From the sacred unification of the two – from the hierosgamos-– the Oneness that is above and beyond binary will appear,”ix Ohad Ezrahi.
Reunion with the circle of life is a tantric odyssey. Life becomes a journey from circle to circle. Tantra was the path I chose because the god and goddess danced together. So I sought out sacred celebration, tribal gatherings and intentional community, because Shakti is found there, immersing my body, mind and soul in communion with the fecund earth, daily. When I decided to become a mother, we birthed our children in warm pools in tipis, planted their placentas beneath trees in the earth, gave thanks to the sea and the stars, and homeschooled them both for as long as we could before the consensual reality vortex sucked us back into the mainstream.
The sacred circle of sustainable love socieity is like intermittent static that coalesces magically in glorious spirals, and then moves on back to suburbia, or Bali. Subject to the same cutting masculine paradigm, our homelands – the places we grew up, the places we gave birth to our children – are constantly changing landscapes. The have trespass notices and fines laid on. Childhood fairy forests become suburbs at the whim of local councils. Homely horizons become open cast mines via multinational incorporations. The circle is being broken over and over again, until we are collectively struggling to remember what a circle is.
I am angry that our circles are broken. More than angry, I am desolated that we cannot yet re-member those circles, despite all our wealth, worldly travel, and shiny things. But is it any wonder in a ‘civilised’ society which still burns indigenous villages to the ground?
I am angry that we have all this technology but no safety in our environment. It is a subtle shifting carpet of fear we live on. Neanderthals may have been prey to sabre-tooth tigers and giant snakes, but we are still prey, to other humans.
We can neatly assess the negative impact of colonisation of tribes. The invasion of femininity happened over such a long time and across so many cultures, we do not recognise the cumulative effects. HHHHTTTTThhklTTOneOOne such effect is the deep mistrust between women. Another is the label ‘bitch.’ Another is the modern idea that ‘feminine essence’ is chaotic and manipulative, as described by David Deida.
This chaotic and manipulative slant is a result of the divorce of the gods. This is the cult of god without goddess. The masculine urge to hunt and conquer, creating win/lose situations, has slain the feminine instinct to encircle and nurture. She lost, and this Pyrrhic victory is taking us all into increasingly fearful and dangerous living situations. With clowns like Trump running countries, it is becoming very obvious to everyone that the patriarchal paradigm, like the witch burning pogroms, is archaic and out-of-control.
The way forward is to claim our femininity. We don’t need to rescue mother earth, we can heal by hierosgamos inside ourselves, radiating out through our very lives. We are the circle that is coming together. In our contracted state, can we open up to each other and find satisfaction in the natural circular rhythms of life – the seasons, the solstices, the tides, the moons, our menstruation? Like those labelled witch, who were attuned to the magic of Earth, can we use these to live with presence and power?
If not, then we cannot do tantra. For we must fall in love with the earth, as our guide, our mother, the creator of our body. On this path each contraction is turned into an expansion, and as we pulse our body open with the rhythms of yoga, the seasons, and the love in our heart, so our life opens.
It is Shakti who leads us to Shiva. She is beckoning you with ancient stories of feminine power to tell.
i Shantara Ma Khalsa, Tantra Unveilled Through the Feminine, p35
ii Steven Guth, The Missings Dark Ages, in New Dawn Special Issue Vol7 no3
iii Laura Knight-Jadczyk, The Golden Age, Psychopathy, and the Sixth Extinction, Sott.net 14.4.2011
iv http://www.summerlands.com, The Hall of Remembrance
v http://www.sumerland.com, The Hall of Rememberance
vi Ohad Ezrahi, Towards an Ecology of Sacred Unification
vii Brainwave Trust New Zealand pamphlet, Family Violence is Not OK 2013
viii Ibid pamphlet
ix Ohad Ezrahi, Towards an Ecology of Sacred Unification