Western culture has systematically stripped the modern woman of her trust in the beauty, value and power of her authentic feminine nature. We are collectively paying a very high price for this.
Western women en masse have forgotten how to be sensual, soft and tenderly feminine. Emotions are stifled in the name of propriety and an ill-conceived perception of strength. Stillness and slowing down have been denigrated. Competitive achievement is lauded over nurturance. It is fair to say that the large majority of Westerners experience life, and make their choices, from the neck up. This is not only a recipe for joylessness, a lack of true intimacy, feeling unfulfilled, burn out and a lost sense of self; in the extreme it can lead to breakdown, hurtful relationships and crisis.
Just as there is physical gender, there is an energetic gender to things. Since ancient times this was called the ‘Principle of Gender’, a universal law of energy. Understanding this empowers our lives in very practical ways. This is not about men and women, or sexual gender; this is on the energetic plane of reality. So, men have a ‘feminine’ component and women likewise have a ‘masculine’ component. The following table illustrates by comparison:
What is ‘the feminine’?
|Living in the head||Living in the body|
|Order & structure||Chaos & flow|
|Direction & orientation||Random & spontaneous|
|Courage to change||Serenity to accept|
|Academic achievement||Artistic expression|
|Outer life/achieving in the world||Inner life/relationship with self|
|Knowing & certainty||Intuition & the unknown|
|Sense/makes sense||Innocence – ‘in-no-sense’|
Too much doing leads to burn out. Too much inaction leads to stagnation. Too much giving leads to emptiness. Too much taking/receiving leads to someone else’s emptiness; often someone close and loving. Too much control leads to suffocation. Not enough control/too much allowing and passivity leads often to being dominated. Too much focus on outer achievements can lead to a lack of fulfilment and truthful action. Too much focus on inner life can lead to a feeling of frustration or even paralysis to prosper in the world – and the list goes on.
The most powerful, effective and whole any entity can be is when both aspects feature in balance.
For women whose lives are steeped in the masculine (by and large the majority of Western women), embodying the feminine can be synonymous to finding a long-lost and dearly missed friend; her own femaleness, her sensuality and emotional expression, her inner world, her innate ability to foster tender intimacy and bliss; her very heart.
The power is in the balance
“… our passive, earthy, related, receptive, feeling, nourishing, compassionate, intuitive, instinctive, feminine essence … All of us have this aspect in our personalities, but patriarchies have long considered most aspects of the feminine to be inferior and undesirable. Thus, the feminine principle tends to be repressed in both men and women today. This is hard on everyone but especially devastating on women, because the feminine principle is the essence of our nature.” [Jean Benedict Raffa]
Classic fairy tales are very often taken literally, missing the energetic symbolism embedded in them. Viewed with an appreciation of this, the ‘princess’ symbolises the feminine principle and the ‘prince’ the masculine. The journeys they take are the ones they need to, to get back to wholeness – the ‘wedding’; the merging of both energetic principles to create ‘happily ever after’.
Likewise well-loved novels and films reflect the Principle of Gender, and the ultimate power, joy and beauty that unfolds when reclaiming and embodying the lost or low featuring one. These stories become best sellers and blockbusters as on a deep level we unconsciously understand that our power is in the balance, and collectively identify with them.
Pretty Woman is one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time. The lead male character starts out as a ruthless and extremely wealthy business man driven only by his head (masc), a workaholic (masc) focused only for profits (masc), and had forgotten how to care, at the expense of relationship and intimacy (masc). His journey to wholeness/happiness was to reclaim his feminine aspects; he learned to slow down (fem), reflect (fem), care about the human element in his business dealings (fem), and ultimately he dropped into his heart (fem), daring to feel emotions deeply (fem), and truly loving the woman he was sexually attracted to (fem). His true power and ability to feel joy again came when he reclaimed his feminine aspects and created an energetic gender balance. The female lead goes on her own journey towards wholeness. By the end of the movie both find their missing energetic gender aspects. Only then do they find true love (balance).
The world-wide phenomenon of Eat Pray Love has sold 10 million copies of the book and the movie has changed countless lives around the world. Even the director of the film was so moved by it he found the courage to separate from an unhappy marriage! What is so special about it? Why does it move us collectively so? The lead female starts on a downward spiral, and rock-bottoms into depression after living life predominantly in her head (masc), paying attention to and listening mostly to her mind (masc). She hits a crisis time so dark she finds herself crying to a God she didn’t even believe in. Her path to wholeness unfolds when she dares to listen to her intuition (fem) and do something totally nonsensical (fem). She divorces her husband seemingly for no good reason (fem), leaves her outwardly perfect life and goes on an inner journey (fem) to reclaim her body (fem – ‘eat’), her spirit (fem – ‘pray’) and her heart (fem – ‘love’). Her beautiful powerful life manifested when she found the balance that the adorable Balinese medicine man, Ketut, teaches her to do. This was the true story of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert.
Rocky, one of the world’s most loved hero films of all time finds a down and out underachieving (fem) boxer, who had a big heart (fem) but no money (fem), who was loved by his community (fem) but had failed in his career (fem), finds his joy and power when he uses his will (masc) to actively face his fears (masc), accessing his strength (masc) to draw a line in the sand and decide (masc) to change his life. The energy created by the combustion of his heart (fem) meeting his will and courage (masc) was so formidable it catapulted him to the life he yearned for, ultimately winning the world title. This movie is well known to have literally inspired generations of ‘underdogs’ to live a fuller life.
In our world the masculine has been admired and the feminine denigrated for the past 5,000 years. The micro effects of the pain this creates can be felt on many individual and family levels, and the macro manifestations layer widely onto societal, environmental and political planes, to sometimes devastating ends.
Embodying the feminine through Middle Eastern Dance
Over the last decade of teaching what is known as belly dance in the West, intertwined with empowerment of the feminine, I have found it to be a uniquely powerful balancer of personal relationship to energetic gender for women.
A staggering percentage of Western women come to class with a deep disconnection from their female bodies and innate femininity. Traditional Middle Eastern dance is in its essence a channelling of pure feminine. Done with spirit and intention, belly dance channels feminine beauty out into the world from deep within a woman’s soul. Within its ancient movements and practices, the dance offers us portals into the feminine on many levels.
Our running-around-like-headless-chickens way of life in the West keeps us living in our heads. True joy is a sensual experience; a woman cannot understand it, she experiences it in her body. It rarely lasts after the initial high of racking up achievements. It does not grace us with its beauty through accumulating things. We can’t think joy; we sense it under our skin, feel it coursing through our bodies and we express it via our hearts. Many of us have simply forgotten how to do this.
Over a decade of teaching my homeland’s traditional dance and empowerment of the feminine, I have noticed how it has the ability to pave a road back to reclaiming all of this – it can be a safe and gentle training ground back to a more joyful and balanced existence.
Learning the art of living in balance and reclaiming our feminine core, women can find a great sense of relief, inner peace and a feeling of returning home. This then can only benefit those who rely on them for emotional sustenance such as partners and children, wider family and friend circles, and ultimately our community at large. By upping our feminine component we start to experience joy, the very recipe for experiencing heaven on earth. Like the ancient Egyptian adage says: “To enter heaven each person will be asked two questions: Did you have joy? Did you bring joy to others?”
by Shemiran Ibrahim
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