Patriarchy and Feminine Spirituality
Owl, Eagle, and She Who Walks in Beauty
Here's the thing about my difficulty with the shamanic East, which I mentioned in a previous post...tackling its meaning from a feminist shamanic perspective feels like an overwhelming task, and being a North woman, feeling overwhelmed is not something I embrace...ever. Thus, the three week silence...that, and this other thing, which is that when seeking shamanic guidance, if one has the luxury of awaiting the precise moment when there's a clear opening through which that guidance can flow, then one should always choose to seek guidance within that context. So, while I must apologize for having disappeared, hopefully what I'll discover about the shamanic East in my next post will make up for my lapse. Having gone through such a lapse, however, I’m pulling back from posting on a weekly basis to posting on an occasional basis, affording myself the luxury of waiting for the appropriate openings into shamanic reality to present themselves.
PATRIARCHY & FEMININE SPIRITUALITY
In her groundbreaking book, The Serpent and the Goddess, Mary Condren explores the ways in which patriarchy oppressed and discounted the power of the Goddess and matriarchal culture as the Catholic Church spread Christianity throughout the British Isles, and particularly throughout Ireland. What is described in the book happened to a greater or lesser extent everywhere patriarchal relition spread, and the inhibiting influence of the horrific abuses directed at goddesses, women, and woman centered cultures has come down to each one of us through the generations. We carry the fear of those times in our genes, if not in our conscious memory, and that fear influences us in both subtle and blatant ways as we attempt to come to terms with what it means to be a spiritually empowered female in today's world.
It's perhaps relatively easy to discern how patriarchy distorts authority issues for women, which is a North issue. It may be more difficult, and sometimes even more painful, to discern the ways in which patriarchy has, and continues to oppress the divine feminine and to influence women away from searching for the feminine source of their spirituality, which is an East issue.
Recovering from such influences is a deep and painful healing process, in part because we must discover and face largely unconscious, yet deeply internalized patriarchal influences that prevent us from knowing who we are as spiritually powerful women and as physical embodiments of the archetypal feminine in all its faces and forms.
SHE WHO WALKS IN BEAUTY
The feminine archetype known as She Who Walks in Beauty is found in the spring landscape of the shamanic east. She is available to us as a guide who can help us free ourselves from the internalized patriarchal influences and beliefs that create what sometimes feels like an impenetrable wall blocking us from achieving genuine feminine spiritual illumination, which is found within, as opposed to patriarchal concepts of spirituality, which are focused outwards, away from ourselves, on an unknowable and inaccessible male god, far removed from the earth and the realities of being embodied souls, and embracing that fact.
One of the first things we must become conscious of about She Who Walks in Beauty is that western culture honors only her most apparent, superficial expression, that of "making nice," which women express when making sure that everyone in their circle of influence is comfortable and feels valued in the charming environments and relationships she creates for them. That's certainly one expression of She Who Walks in Beauty, but as with every such archetype, this "makes nice" archetype has a dual nature.
On the one hand, she certainly can teach us how to "make nice." On the other hand, hidden deep within her beauty walk is the awesome power to free us from internalized patriarchal beliefs about women's spirituality. The gods of patriarchy and their misogynistic teachings about women dissolve beneath her penetrating gaze, a gift of Owl, opening space for the illuminating light of genuine feminine spirituality to bathe our souls.
But the sight of Eagle, which offers us a "bird's eye view" of any big picture within which we're living, is another East medicine. Eagle medicine is generally valued over Owl medicine in patriarchal shamanic cultures. This is not because of its ability to afford us a big picture, but because it flies so high into the Sky realm of the Masculine, where the gods of patriarchy live. By contrast, in feminist shamanic practice, we develop relationship with both of these visionary medicines in the shamanic East, in order to understand the accomplishments it offers us as fully as possible.
Among many other things, Eagle medicine enables us to comprehend the entirety of the structure of patriarchal religious beliefs. Owl enables us to penetrate our own psyches and find the hidden places within them in which those beliefs have taken up residence.
When women achieve this dual perception of our situation, She Who Walks in Beauty then appears to us in her hidden aspect, dissolving the patriarchal beliefs within our psyches. She then instructs us regarding how to allow the illumination of genuine feminine spirituality to bathe and fill the psychic spaces the beliefs once occupied.
Obviously, this level of healing is no simple process. It's a long, slow one, requiring multiple shamanic journeys into the depths of our feminine souls to discover and remove unconsciously internalized patriarchal religious beliefs one by one, replacing each with a new comprehension of feminine spirituality. Each journey must then be followed by a period of time during which we take action in the physical world to facilitate the integration of each step in our personal journey towards complete freedom from internalized patriarchal belief systems...a journey that, like so many deep levels of shamanic healing, can take a lifetime to complete.
In my next post, I'll share with you my most recent journey into the shamanic East to take the next step in my own process of seeking freedom from internalized patriarchal religious beliefs.
So that you can catch up on any East posts you may have missed, here are links to them: